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From: (Jay Mann)
Subject: Re: European food additive information
Date: 18 Oct 1997 03:45:12 GMT

Suzanne Willis ( wrote:
:         I have some vegetable broth powder which I bought in
: Europe, and it has the following among its ingredients: In French, these
: are labeled exhausteurs de saveur; in German: Geschmacksverstarker; in
: Italian: rinforzanti del sapone, with the identifiers E 621, E 627, and
: E 631. Can anyone tell me what these are, or point me to a source of
: information? European food additives all have an E number like this, but I
: don't know how to find out what they stand for).

These E numbers are used worldwide. They replace a chaotic system where the
codes in, say, Australia and New Zealand were different from those in the
States and from those in Europe.  One unfortunate side-effect of the
E-number program has been to increase public fears about CHEMICALS IN OUR
FOOD.  Thus it's with some reluctance that I inform you that E621 is the
sodium salt of glutamic acid; E627 is disodium guanylate, and E631 is
disodium inosinate.  All three materials are natural components of the
traditional Japanese sauce, "dashi".    Glutamate is a chemical signal to
our taste buds that "protein is high in this food".  The nucleotides (627
and 631) signal in the same way that "this food comes from muscle tissue".
627 and 631 are hard to separate, so are often used as a combination.

Taste studies show that people prefer foods with the nucleotides rather than
merely glutamate.  So the manufacturer of that vegetable broth powder has
gone to extra expense by adding the 627 and 631.

There is a Web page somewhere with these E numbers, but I don't have the
address handy just now.

Jay D Mann  <>
Christchurch, New Zealand

From: (Jay Mann)
Subject: Re: MSG, does it go by other names?
Date: 2 Dec 1997 19:46:07 GMT

Elmer ( wrote:
: In article <>,
: wrote:
: >I am looking at a containor, it lists ...potassium sorbate. Is that MSG?
: >Powdered cellulose? MSG..??
: >I put it on my rice and I think it is making me sick.
: >This is Safeway Lucerne brand
: >thanks...reply e-mail please
:     No these are not MSG.  But you should know that about a year ago a
: very believable study showed that it was not the MSG that affected most
: people, but the fermentation products in soy sauces. The double blind
: tests, in fact, cold find no adverse reaction by anyone in the study to
: the MSG.

Whatever study it was, it was only the latest in decades' of identical
results.  Likely factor in Chinese restaurant syndrome is histamine, from
such items as high-grade fermented soy sauce, but perhaps not from cheaper
chemically hydrolysed soy sauce.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of consumers are convinced that
MSG is somehow bad for you, and foods labelled "no added MSG" are higher
quality.   To me, it's as though the labels boasted "poor flavour".  (And
the "no preservatives" claim reads: "This food will rot easily")

Fortunately, manufacturers find other ways to put glutamic acid
into foods, since glutamate-containing foods taste a world better than
without.  One way, for instance, is to use tomatoes and cheese.  Funny
coincidence, isn't it, that the main ingredients of Italian cooking just
happen to be those which have high levels of taste-enhancing glutamate.
And the tiny minority of people who do suffer from Chinese restaurant
syndrome, perhaps 1-2%, go to all sorts of wasted effort to avoid MSG,
without protecting themselves against histamine.

Jay D Mann  <>
Christchurch, New Zealand

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: The problem with "natural flavor" 3
Date: 27 Nov 1996

In <APC&1'0'69c94cc3'> Claire Gilbert
<> writes:
>             From July-August 1996 Blazing Tattles*
>                      All rights reserved.
>                   By Claire W. Gilbert, Ph.D.
>     The following is from Mark Gold (private communication):
>     ~"One manufacturing process that creates "MSG," or free
>glutamic acid, is hydrolyzing proteins.  For example, hydrolyzed
>milk proteins can contain up to 12% free glutamic acid.  Other
>hydrolyzed proteins can contain higher percentages of free glutamic
>acid.  These hydrolyzed proteins can contain other excitotoxic ami-
>no acids and a variety of chemicals that may be of health

    Comments:  What in the world do you think your digestive system
does to milk proteins (or any other proteins, for that matter), except
hydrolyze them?  Your assertion that this process somehow results in a
different glutamate than commercial hydrolysis is without foundation.
You may be able to show that intake of pure glutamate does things which
taking a protein does not, but such studies only support the notion
that glutamate alone acts in ways that are not seen when it is ingested
with other amino acids.  In that sense, it really doesn't matter
whether or not a protein is hydrolysed inside or outside your gut.  The
problem with your argument is that you list things which intake of pure
glutamate does, then assume these can be seen when glutamate is eaten
in hydrolyzed protein.  But this is exactly what needs to be proven.
MSG may cause Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, but that does not mean by
any means that amino acid mixtures (hydrolyzed proteins) cause the same
MSG syndrome.

   Do you think your body somehow fixes things up so that glutamate is
never found in the free state?  In the brain (protected from glutamate
by the blood brain barrier), that is close to the case, but not in the
rest of the body.  In the rest of your body, glutamate is amino acid
coin-of-the-realm.  Glutamate is by far the most abundant amino acid in
your blood, whether you eat MSG or not.  Your assertion that some
glutamate is converted to alanine in absorption is thus true, but
irrelevent.  Most isn't.  In fact, glutamate is tremendously important
for the healthy function of your gut, where many cells use it
preferentially for many nutritive functions.  Which is why the newest
and most expensive alimentation regimens for the sickest patients
contain a tremendous amount of glutamate.  Dozens of human and animal
studies show it works better than anything else.

 There are other manufacturing processes that can
>release a certain percentage of free glutamic acid in food, too.
>The FDA disallows the use of "MSG-free" on a food label which con-
>tains hydrolyzed proteins (although their enforcement of this rule
>may not be consistent.
>     ~"Whatever the source of `MSG,'" the form of the free glutamic
>acid appears to be mostly the "L" (natural) form.  However, foods
>with MSG appear to have a much higher content of "D" (synthetic)
>glutamic acid.  They also contain pyroglutamic acid.

   Which is touted by many health-gurus as a cognitive aid,
interestingly enough.  You can buy it in health food stores in pills--
Source Naturals sells it, in fact.   In "Life Extension" face creams
and shampoos the stuff is abbreviated as PGA, or the salt NaPGA, and
used as a humectant.  Strange how horrid and toxic stuff becomes
cosmetic and nootropic when a buck is to be made off it by the
alternative nutrition crowd, eh?  "Health conscious people," indeed.
If it's in a bottle in a health food store it's alternative medicine,
and if it's on the label in your processed food it's bad juju...

                                              Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: L-Glutamic Acid = Glutamic Acid as source of MSG?
Date: 7 May 1999 02:31:14 GMT

<CA73419253F5BB37.DC2D27BD285BB2CA.5FD6034814CE701A@library-proxy.airne> (john smith) writes:
>I see that Glutamic acid always contains MSG.  Is the same true of
>L-Glutamic Acid?

  MSG is the mono-sodium salt of glumatic acid: monosodium glutamate.
It's what you get when you add a mole of dilute NaOH to a mole of
disolved glutamic acid. So while L-glutamic acid might not technically
contain MSG, after it gets de-acidified high in your gut, it becomes a
solution containin sodium and glutaminate, exactly as you would get if
you swallowed MSG.

   Again, the two compounds orally are more or less equal in ability to
cause "MSG" symptoms, since glutamine and its salt wind up as the same
thing by the time they've gone through the wash-and-rise cycle of your
stomach acid and neutralizing pancreatic juice.  The sodium doesn't
"stick" on the rest of the molecule when it's in solution, so the non
sodium part, when hitting receptors in your intestinal wall, looks the
same, whether it was swallowed with sodium or not (the only difference
is that the free-base glutamate is a an antacid, and the salt isn't).
Much the same is true of moderate (few hundred mg) doses of ascorbic
acid vs sodium ascorbate:  After they get past the duodenum of the
average person, there's no difference.

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