We have attempted to give you a comprehensive list of what to avoid. You can see by the length of this list that most fast food establishments should be avoided - the worst offender by far is KFC®. It should become obvious as well, that the foods most likely to give someone an MSG reaction at ANY restaurant are: CHICKEN and SAUSAGE products, RANCH dressing, PARMESAN items, GRAVY, and DIPPING SAUCES and fries with any kind of seasoning on them except plain salt. FLAVORED salty snack chips that are usually sold with sandwiches are a problem - ESPECIALLY Doritos® and Cheetos® and items with cheese powder added.
At regular restaurants, you want to avoid PARMESAN encrusted ANYTHING, SOUPS, CEASAR salad, FISH SAUCE or EXTRACT, SOY SAUCE, BOAR'S HEAD® deli meats and anything that comes out of a can . Go to restaurants that make things from scratch - you can ask what is in food and also ask for special items without the offending ingredients. You WILL be glad you spoke up BEFORE you eat the wrong thing. DON'T smother your choice in the parmesan cheese at the table either- Parmesan cheese is 1% straight MSG by weight.
At your friends and relatives homes - the hardest place to avoid MSG - avoid your aunt's "secret" recipe, anything that has Accent® in it, anything with a boullion cube or meat extract or "seasoning" packet, the Latino seasoning Goya Sazon®, Lawry's® seasoning salt, Gravy Master®, tuna with "broth" or hydrolyzed or autolysed ANYTHING on the label, grandma's Jello® gelatin mold dessert, potato chip dip or hamburgers with Lipton's® Onion Soup Mix in them, Vegetable dips with Knorr® vegetable soup mix in it, Italian foods smothered in Parmesan cheese, Hamburger Helper, canned soups - especially Progresso® and tomato or mushroom soup, the "green bean casserole" heck, ANY casserole. Check packages of prepared baked items and avoid any with soy protein, casein, wheat gluten, malted barley, and non-fat dried milk as an ingredient. Avoid aspartame, Nutrasweet®, "diet" drinks and artificially sweetened desserts - ESPECIALLY gelatin. If you aren't sure - just eat the raw vegetables but don't dip them - eat them plain. Skip the hotdogs and cold cuts altogether unless you know they are safe. Have some iced tea and add plain sugar and fresh lemon. BRING foods you can eat so you aren't tempted and weak when your relatives ask why you aren't eating their prized recipe - and you cave in and poison yourself just to make them happy. Avoid Ultra-pasteurized dairy products, cheeses, cream, and half and half with carageenan added. Look for plain Pasteurized whole milk to put in your plain coffee and avoid low fat and non-fat milk - because low fat dairy products usually have dried, high-free glutamate, non-fat dried milk added to boost the protein content.
So, here is the official list which was obtained from the website links provided. (Amazing what they call food nowadays, isn't it?)
The following Fast Food menu items contain MSG or enough free glutamate to cause a reaction:
Grilled Chicken Filet
Hot and Spicy Chicken Patty
Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad
Grilled Chicken California Cobb Salad
Sausage Scrambled Egg Mix, Sausage, and Sausage Patty
French Fries - the "seasoning" added to the oil the fries are precooked in.
The "seasoning" is made from beef, wheat and milk, processed to break down the proteins into free amino acids like glutamate. US laws allow "natural flavoring" to consist of "protein hydrolysates" containing free glutamic acid. That's why they do it - to free glutamate to act like MSG so they can declare a "clean label" while misleading the consumer.
We have not been able to get a real accounting of what is in Applebee's food, the website is particularly vague, but we have gotten many reports of MSG reactions to foods at the chain restaurants like TGI Fridays, Applebees, and most chain restaurants that have marinated and seasoned meats and that overuse parmesan and soy sauce. In our experience, the better restaurants have chefs willing to make a special meal for you, and also the owners of local eateries (not chains) where things are made from scratch will be able to tell you everything that went into your meal. Don't take chances on your health - often good chefs and chef/owners like the chance to be creative and keep a customer at the same time. The hardest part is dealing with your friends (who think you are high maintenance). It helps to eat out with friends who also have special diet requirements.
The best advice to anyone visiting a Fast Food establishment (if you have to):
AVOID all CHICKEN items
AVOID all SAUSAGE items
AVOID all PARMESAN items
AVOID all Ranch dressings - stick to oil and vinegar Italian
AVOID KFC altogether - we're not kidding
AVOID Dipping Sauces
AVOID TOMATO AND MUSHROOM soups
Unfortunately, certain food companies are experimenting on how to put more MSG in your MSG-free foods. We recommend you avoid ANY and all products from the following food companies - since they will NOT have a label that will alert you to the presence of free glutamic acid. They are trying to keep a clean label while increasing the amount of free glutamic acid in your food.
Dairy Management Inc.
The Mushroom Council
Ajinomoto Food Ingredients
The following foods contain MSG or its business end - the free amino acid glutamate - in amounts large enough to cause reactions in those sensitive to it.:
Taco Bell® - seasoned meat - contains autolyzed yeast - which contains free glutamate Other menu items that contain soy sauce, natural flavors, autolyzed yeast or hydrolyzed protein which can contain up to 20% free glutamic acid - the active part of MSG. Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles® (targeted towards children) Doritos® Campbell's® soups - all of them - based on their commitment to add "umami" (read - MSG) to their products Pringles® (the flavored varieties) Boar's Head® cold cuts and most of their hotdogs Progresso® Soups - all of them Lipton® Noodles and Sauce Lipton® Instant soup mix Unilever or Knorr® products - often used in homemade Veggie dips. Kraft® products nearly all contain some free glutamate Gravy Master® Cup-a-soup® or Cup-o-Noodles® Planters® salted nuts - most of them Accent® -this is nearly pure MSG Braggs® Liquid Aminos - sold at Whole Foods Hodgson Mill Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour® Tangle extract (seaweed extract) - found in sushi rolls (even at Whole Foods) Seaweed is what MSG was first isolated from. Fish extract - made from decomposed fish protein - used now in Japanese sushi dishes - very high in free glutamate. sausages - most supermarkets add MSG to theirs processed cheese spread Marmite® supermarket poultry or turkeys that are injected or "self-basting" restaurant gravy from food service cans flavored ramen noodles boullion - any kind instant soup mixes many salad dressings most salty, powdered dry food mixes - read labels flavored potato chips restaurant soups made from food service soup base or with added MSG monopotassium glutamate glutamic acid gelatin hydrolyzed vegetable protein (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, like canned tuna and even hot dogs) hydrolyzed plant protein (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, like canned tuna and even hot dogs) autolyzed yeast (found in many processed AMERICAN foods, read labels) sodium caseinate textured protein beet juice - it is used as a coloring, but MSG is manufactured from beets and the extract may contain free glutamic acid - Yo Baby - organic baby yogurt has just changed the formula to include beet extract yeast extract yeast food or nutrient soy protein isolate soy sauce Worcestershire sauce Kombu extract dry milk and whey powder "natural flavors" - may contain up to 20% MSG carageenan dough conditioners malted barley malted barley flour - found in many supermarket breads and all-purpose flours including: King Arthur, Heckers, and Gold Medal flour body builder drink powders containing protein Parmesan cheese - naturally high in free glutamate over-ripe tomatoes - naturally high in free glutamate mushrooms - naturally high in free glutamate Medications in gelcaps - contain free glutamic acid in the gelatin Cosmetics and shampoos - some now contain glutamic acid Fresh produce sprayed with Auxigro in the field. (Yes the EPA approved this. It appalled us too.)
Food manufacturers are hiding MSG so you don't know where it is. Lately, food manufacturers mention a "clean label" when referring to soy sauce and other processed flavor enhancers that already contain MSG in the form of glutamic acid. Food manufacturers use these ingredients so they can claim "no added MSG". Hence a "cleaner" label. They know it's in there, they are just hoping you don't.
See exactly how food manufacturers are trying to use free glutamic acid without telling you about it: Food Product Design <http://www.foodproductdesign.com/archive/1998/0298AP.html>article