If You’re Allergic to MSG, Canned Soup Is NOT Your Friend

Monosodium glutamate is a commonly used flavor-enhancer in canned and gourmet-prepared soups.

Last week Campbell’s Soup announced it would no longer add MSG to the soups they market to children, such as their Alphabet Soup and their (ghastly awful) Chicken Soup.

It was an admission by the company a long time in coming, since they’ve spent the better part of the last few years denying that they include MSG in their entire product line of soups. Campbell’s says the MSG free version of those soups will hit the shelves beginning in August.

Campbell’s Web site of course STILL states that there is no MSG added to their soups. If you’ve read my previous posts on the names of ingredients food companies use to conceal MSG, you’ll know that the ingredient list doesn’t have to include “Monosodium Glutamate” for MSG to be present. Federal law requires that food manufacturers MUST list MSG if it is used. But, they always find ways around it. The only times you’ll find MSG spelled out on the package among the product’s ingredients are in seasonings and in foods such as nuts.

It should also be noted that MSG is naturally occurring in some fruits and vegetables, as well as meats. Campbell’s claim that their soups are MSG free is rather silly when you look at that fact.

But the company’s admission that they have in fact been adding MSG to their children’s soup line all this time is a big deal.

If you have an MSG allergy, ALL of Campbell’s Soups should be avoided.

In 2008, General Mills claimed to have removed MSG from its entire line of Progresso Soups. In my research, I’ve discovered that this is incorrect through their continued use of yeast extract. And, you must note that MSG is naturally occurring in some vegetables in the soups such as tomatoes.

You also want to avoid powdered soup mixes (most notably, Lipton’s soup mixes). They will ALL have MSG. You should also avoid any prepared chicken and beef broths. They’re made with bouillon, which as we know, is an MSG allergy trigger. I do want to note that Swanson did release an MSG free version of its chicken broth, last October, which is outstanding.

Continue to check your labels!

Here is a brief rundown of the ingredients to watch out for on any soup cans you may already have in your kitchen pantry:

Autolyzed plant protein
Autolyzed yeast
Calcium caseinate
Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
Monopotassium glutamate
Sodium caseinate
Soy protein concentrate
Textured protein
Yeast or nutrient yeast extract

Beware of the gourmet soups ordered out in restaurant chains as well. Just like their canned cousins, they are just as likely to include MSG. For example, I cannot eat anything at Panera, which uses soy products in their soups.

I could find no nutritional information on Hale & Hearty soups. Until I do, I’ll be avoiding them as well.

Nutritionally speaking, as far as canned soups are concerned, they’re hardly the healthiest choice out there. A single can of Campbell’s and Progresso Soups offers more than 400 grams of sodium. And even in the reduced sodium recipes the sodium level is still high.

Also, be sure to watch out for the soups made at your local supermarket (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s). They look and smell wonderful, BUT you should NEVER assume that because these two chains offer healthy products on their shelves that they’ve left the MSG out of their soups — or the high sodium content for that matter.

Keep reading those labels! Knowledge is power.

NEXT: Uncovering The Unhealthy Truth About Trail Mix and MSG.

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In a few weeks I’ll be doing a post answering readers’ questions. I’d love to include yours!