Does Soy Sauce Have MSG?   

A common misconception is that MSG is bad for you, which is only partially true. Most soy sauces contain MSG, no worries when your soy sauce contains MSG; it is not all that harmful unless you consume large amounts daily. 

That said, can you use an alternative to MSG? Of course, you can! There are numerous options to substitute for MSG, such as bouillon cubes or beef stock. MSG soy sauce can give you that perfect umami flavor you want. 

What is MSG?

Salt and Glutamate make up MSG, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. MSG is a naturally occurring and synthesized amino acid. Made by fermenting carb sources, such as sugar cane, molasses, or sugar beet, MSG is truthfully a byproduct of the process of making soy sauce. 

Used for approximately 100 years, MSG has a mildly salty taste with no extraordinary qualities. Looking similar to course salt and sugar, MSG lacks color and flavor. MSG is a bit more translucent than salt and sugar. 

You can find various MSG brands relatively quickly in your local supermarket. However, if you cannot locate them in your local grocery store, you may have to check out an Asian market or order it online. 

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Does Soy Sauce Contain MSG?

MSG is in most of your sauces because it is a flavor booster that gives an umami flavor, perfect for all types of sauces. Many condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and soy sauce, contain considerable amounts of MSG, which gives that savory and salty flavor. 

Many soy sauce brands frequently contain MSG, but not all. Sauce brands like MIKEE Soy Sauce, Kikkoman Soy Sauce, or Lee Kum Premium Soy Sauce all have no added MSG, which would be great options if you want to stick clear of MSG. You can look for brands of soy sauce that specifically state “MSG-Free,” if you are worried about reacting negatively to the MSG. 

Are There Any Harmful Effects of Soy Sauce Containing MSG?

Back in the 1960s, MSG got a bad reputation from an American-Chinese doctor, Ho Man Kwok. Dr.Kwok wrote a letter in the mail to The New England Journal of Medicine, stating that he got very ill after he had consumed a drink and Chinese food. Kwok related his symptoms to MSG, alcohol, or sodium. This letter started a long-term rumor that MSG would lead to metabolic disorders or other illnesses. 

However, modern studies state differently. Today’s studies have generally found MSG to be safe in moderate amounts. If you consume more than 5 grams daily, you would be considered “at risk” for a metabolic disorder as that is a hefty amount for daily consumption. A small number of people could be at risk of consuming MSG, such as people with an allergy or sensitivity to MSG.

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Are There Soy Sauce Alternatives That Don’t Have MSG?

There are many ways to get around using MSG in your meal, like simply leaving it out! That’s right, leave it out, and don’t add anything! This option may give you a different Umami flavor than you are craving. If that is the case, there are other options that you could add to provide that Umami flavor without the MSG. 

Things like MSG-free beef stock or bouillon cubes, parmesan, dulse, fish sauce, or soy sauce that does not contain MSG could all be excellent substitutes. Soy sauce that has gone through the fermenting process has natural Glutamate with no added MSG. Soy sauce with hydrolyzed soy protein as an ingredient is guaranteed to have added MSG. 

Related Questions

What does MSG do to the brain?

Long story short, the claim is that MSG will kill your brain cells. MSG acts as a neurotransmitter, a chemical material that stimulates your nerve cells to transmit signals. 

Some studies state that this process can lead to brain toxicity, causing excessive glutamate levels in the brain. Exorbitant glutamate levels can gorge your nerve cells, resulting in cell death. 

How long does MSG stay in your system?

It depends on the amount of MSG you have consumed and your size and metabolism rate. A bigger person with a slow metabolism may take up to 24 hours for the MSG to leave their body. However, if you are a small person with a high metabolism, it could be out of your system within a few hours. 

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What food is highest in MSG?

You may be unhappy reading this, but your favorite fast-food resteraunt like Mcdonald’s, Burger King, or other fast-food chains have lots of MSG in their food. Fast food chains add MSG to almost all of their products, which may be why they are so tasty. 

Another food that would be high in MSG is any of your sauces, like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, soy sauce, salad dressings, or barbecue sauce. 


In summary, most soy sauce indeed contains MSG and quite a bit of it! No worries if you are looking for soy sauce with no MSG! There are many MSG-free options, or you could use another alternative, such as bouillon cubes or a bit of extra salt. Ensure that you check nutrition labels, as MSG is way more things than you may realize.