4 Foods Commonly Containing MSG

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a sodium salt of glutamic acid. As a food additive, it’s used to enhance flavor. It’s found in many seasonings, sauces, salad dressings and prepared foods; it’s also often used in fast food preparation. Side effects associated with MSG consumption include a burning feeling in the chest, arms and face, as well as chest pains, headache, fatigue, heart palpitations and nausea. The FDA does not require manufacturers who use MSG in their products to list it as an ingredient. Here’s a list of foods that often contain MSG; please keep in mind that not all products from these companies contain MSG, so check with the manufacturers to be sure.

1) Prepared and Packaged Foods

Many prepared foods contain MSG, especially snack foods like chips, frozen meals, canned soups and instant soups. Some of the most popular packaged foods contain MSG. Some of them are:

  • Hamburger Helper
  • Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix
  • Progresso soups
  • Campbell’s soups

Most frozen pizzas, processed vegetables, processed and canned meats and frozen pot pies contain MSG as a flavor enhancer.

2) Sauces and Seasonings

Many sauces, seasonings and salad dressings contain MSG. Soy sauce, fish sauce, gravy and dipping sauces often contain MSG. Here are some of the salts, seasonings, sauces and dressings that contain MSG:

  • Accent seasoning
  • Bacon Bits
  • Goya Sazon
  • Lawry’s Season Salt
  • Gravy Master
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • Marmite

Sweeteners, like brown sugar and Nutrasweet, often contain MSG, as do many salad dressings. Some processed cheeses, like processed parmesan cheese, contain MSG. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and many other condiments contain this food additive as well.

3) Fast Foods and Chain Restaurant Foods

Fast foods are very high in MSG, especially Chinese food. While most Chinese and other Asian fast food restaurants use MSG as a flavor enhancer, many now offer MSG-free alternatives or will be willing to prepare them if asked.

Some fast food restaurants who regularly use MSG include:

  • McDonald’s
  • KFC
  • Burger King
  • Chick-Fil-A
  • Taco Bell

Popular chain restaurants, like Applebee’s, are also known to use MSG in many of their products. Often, that’s not because the restaurants intentionally put MSG into the food, but because it’s present in the sweeteners, spices and sauces they use, or because it’s present in packaged and processed foods used by that restaurant. If you’d like to avoid MSG at your favorite restaurants, check that restaurant’s food allergy guide online, and avoid using spices, sauces or sweeteners at that restaurant. Many restaurants will provide MSG free sweeteners, spices and sauces if you ask.

4) Snacks

Many snacks, like chips, contain MSG as a flavor enhancer. The dips and sauces that many people like to eat in conjunction with chips, pretzels and other snacks also often contain MSG. While some snack foods, like plain potato chips and Cheez-Its crackers, are MSG free, many others contain MSG, sometimes in levels high enough to cause an allergic reaction in those sensitive to glutamic acid.  Popular snack foods that contain MSG include:

  • Pringles chips (the seasoned varieties)
  • Doritos
  • Planters nuts
  • Unilever and Knorr instant dip products

Most flavored potato chips and processed cheese flavored snacks also contain monosodium glutamate, so you should try to avoid them.


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Posts By Sequoia
  • Jennifer

    It’s no wonder it’s so hard to stick to a diet plan and stay healthy in this country. I’m hoping that as we as consumers demand healthier food, more manufacturers will make it. I think we are seeing a shift to that way of thinking now, slowly but surely.

  • mrs dj senior

    after suffering for many years with stomach and digestive problems that the doctors diagnosed as IBS i started to get pain in my muscles and severe headaches dry mouth along with several other symptoms i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia still struggled every day with some or other weird symptom i paid for an in depth allergy test which showed that i was allergic to MSG so it avoided like the plague anything with MSG in it but still suffered 2 yrs later after thinking that i had done well with my diet and not had any MSG i find out that after having a very bad (poisoning attack of the nervous system) i had eaten something that said MSG free only to find that the food did infact have MSG in it not everyone is aware that MSG is also known has a multitude of other names this is just not on and millions of people are going to suffer because of their blatant lies to line their pockets the people who do this have created a chemical warfare ! you try and buy something that has not got MSG or any of the other names that it comes under because it is impossible I feel very disgusted and annoyed that people have to suffer this way

  • Melissa

    I also speak for the ones who suffer through the negative side effects with MSG. It’s difficult to avoid MSG here in America because so many foods contain it. Hopefully more foods will take it off the ingrediants. The FDA lied that it only affects 2% of people but it’s to brainwash others in eating it. When you do the research it actually affects 25-30% of people who eat it.. I am tired of getting headaches when I eat. Eating is supposed to make you feel better and energized and healthy. I also get disgusted with the preservatives some food contains.

  • Kim

    Wow, I have had issues when eating chinese food at mall food fares and figured it was MSG. It was never too terribly bad. Last night I ate at Applebee’s and had the french onion soup and three cheese chicken penne and started to feel bad part-way through the penne. I boxed it up and my husband and I were on our way to a movie and I seriously thought of asking him to drive me home as I was feeling pretty sick and thought it might be food poisoning. I bloated up so much I felt like a balloon at the Macy’s Parade. Then the nausea set in and when we got to the theater, I was dry-heaving in the ladies room then my head started pounding during the movie. I won’t be eating there again. I just can’t take the chance on trying something else but getting the same effect.



  • Ricker

    The cause of my really bad migraines was self diagnosed as allergy to msg some 20 years ago. Since then I have avoided all foods containing E624 monosodium glutamate including kfc, most pizzas, most soups, aromat, and the list goes on. Its been a long road, and my greatest blessing has been my wife who only buys food that I can eat, and Woolworths Food Store who only sell food according to their ‘No Added msg’ policy – my Saviours!
    My advice to regular migraine victims is avoid msg for a month. Build islands of good health, and then try to extend them. Try it, and good health.