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Does Hydrolyzed Soy Protein = MSG?

Another thread prompted jfood to look up the ingredients in HN hot dogs and this term appeared. He googled and read a few articles but is still a little confused.

Does anyone know the answer to whether HSP = MSG?


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  1. I thought I knew this one but then i looked it up on a USDA site.
    Are MSG and hydrolyzed protein related?
    Yes. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. It is found in virtually all food and, in abundance, in food that is high in protein, including meat, poultry, cheeses, and fish.

    Hydrolyzed proteins, used by the food industry to enhance flavor, are simply proteins that have been chemically broken apart into amino acids. The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. In this case, the presence of MSG does not need to be disclosed on labeling. Labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.
    For me, all this translates to , "If you don't have a degree in chemistry be VERY careful what you buy."

      1. Thanks guys.

        Can't believe Hebrew National Hot Dogs have to go in the bad food column. Crappy way to start the weekend.

        11 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Why "bad"? Just to be clear, as the other posts pointed out, hydrolyzed yeast protein is *not* actually MSG but contains an amino acid that is one of the building blocks of MSG. This amino acid is *already naturally present* in the meat that goes in the hot dogs, as well as other foods like mushrooms and parmesan cheese. As long as that brand of hot dogs hasn't been causing you a bad reaction, then there's no reason to avoid it just because it contains the building blocks of MSG.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Then the chemical difference between the two is....?


            1. re: jfood

              Nonexistent. But neither is there any chemical difference between the free glutamate in MSG and the free glutamate found in, eg, mushrooms, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.

              At some point in the last year or two, Maria Lorraine posted a long, detailed, and well-reasoned and -supported discussion of MSG and tyramines. Given that she's makes a living on the cutting edge of these issues, I tend to believe her claim that tyramines may be causing the symptoms people ascribe to MSG.

              It's a hot-button issue for a lot of people, and there's a ton of bad information out there. I personally tend to avoid foods with added MSG because there seems to be a correlation with heavy processing and low quality. But no scientific study has ever been able to document any physical reaction to MSG, even among people who believe themselves to be sensitive to it. Claimed reactions occur at approximately the same rate among those who are given placebos and those who are given huge doses of pure MSG.

              Long and short, if you like HN hot dogs, don't let the hydrolyzed proteins worry you.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  "But neither is there any chemical difference between the free glutamate in MSG and the free glutamate found in, eg, mushrooms, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese."

                  Yes, that's the point I was trying to make.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    sorry for being thick but are you saying that there is MSG in mushrooms exactly equal to that in Accent?

                    1. re: jfood

                      That's kind of like asking if the salt that's naturally occurring in your steak is the same as the salt in your salt shaker. Yes and no: something in it's pure form is almost by definition not the same as something that has been mixed and incorporated into something else. But hydrolyzed soy protein is more like what's in mushrooms than it is like Accent.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Sorry, but jfood thought it was specific. So let's use the salt example to see if that helps. Maybe this is why it is so confusing

                        Salt in the salt shaker is NaCl, sodium chloride. If there is MaCl in the steak then it is exactly the same.

                        Now unto MSG. Is the thing found in mushrooms the same chemical compound as the hydrolyzed soy protein and/or the same chemical compound as that in mushrooms?

                        Jfood is not trying to be difficult, but he is actually getting more confused by the comment "But hydrolyzed soy protein is more like what's in mushrooms than it is like Accent" which leads him to believe they are not the same but similar.


                        1. re: jfood

                          NaCl and MSG are both salts. Salts dissociate in water. Salts consist of tightly bonded ions. In water, these bonds are weakened and the ions become mobile. This accounts for the fact that salt solutions are generally electrolytes. In water, for example, sodium chloride ionizes, or dissociates like this:

                          NaCl (s) à Na1+ (aq) + Cl1- (aq)

                          So salt in a salt shaker is not the same as salt that's been dissolved in a solution like water or blood, i.e. in your steak. In the same way, the MSG in your can of Accent will break down in foods into sodium and glutamic acid, and glutamic acid is naturally found in foods.


                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            To elaborate -

                            MSG is a water-soluble sodium salt of glutamic acid (aka glutamate). As soon as it hits your tongue, MSG breaks apart into a single sodium ion and a single glutamate ion.

                            There are other water-soluble salts of glutamic acid. For example, potassium glutamate is fairly common. But when you put any of these salts in your mouth they dissolve, and the glutamate ions trigger that "umami" response.

                            Foods like mushrooms and products like hydrolyzed protein contain MSG, which is identical to the MSG in a bottle of Accent. But they also contain other glutamate salts and ions, which are chemically distinct from MSG.

                            But irrespective of the fact that the salts are different, they break down when they encounter water and release glutamate ions. And glutamic acid is glutamic acid is glutamic acid. (Well, not quite, it's an asymmetric molecule, so it can be right- or left-handed. The L-enantiomer enhances flavor while the D-enantiomer doesn't. Presumably you don't want to get into that level of detail...)

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Thanks AB & RL

                              The real test will be a couple of HN dogs. If jfood is OK then good news. Oh the things people do for science.

          2. HSP is fine, but then, so is MSG. Ignoring that, if you want neither, then you should also avoid Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Spices, Natural Flavors, Yeast... HSP and AYE are just ways for "natural" producers to compete.

            1. jfood,

              Why is "MSG" in your mind a "bad" thing?

              Is it because you believe you are allergic to it, so it is "bad" for you in an individual and personal sense?

              Or is it because you believe "MSG" is bad in the way that arsenic is bad?

              2 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Jfood sometimes gets the shakes, feels light headed and falls asleep from MSG.

                Whether it's an allergy or he is just sensitive is semantics, but thankfully it does not get to the level of arsenic.

                1. re: jfood

                  That MSG effect generally occurs (albeit in a very small number of people) when one consumes a high concentration of MSG in a hot liquid on an empty stomach. In studies a similar number of subjects reported like effects after consuming a placebo. I have not heard of adverse reactions from other sources of glutamic acid, so I wouldn't worry about yeast extract or hydrolyzed soy or the rest. Avoid the wonton soup for breakfast, though.