Does Bacon Have MSG? Let’s Find Out

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a controversial flavor enhancer that is added to many processed foods. Some people claim to have sensitivities or reactions to MSG. So an important question is – does bacon have MSG?

As someone who loves bacon, I decided to dig into this issue and find out for myself. Here’s what I discovered.

What Exactly is MSG?

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid. It was first identified as a flavor enhancer in 1908 by Japanese researchers.

MSG enhances and intensifies the savory umami taste of foods It basically makes things taste more “meaty” and delicious.

Today, MSG is added to tons of processed foods like chips, frozen dinners, fast food, instant noodles, seasoning mixes, and more. It’s also found naturally in ingredients like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast extract, soy extracts, etc.

The FDA considers MSG to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) as a food additive. However, some people claim to experience reactions like headaches, flushing, and heart palpitations after eating MSG.

So let’s look specifically at bacon.

The Short Answer

After investigating multiple sources, it appears that most bacon does NOT contain added MSG. However, MSG can be found naturally in bacon.

The curing process used to make bacon often utilizes ingredients that contain glutamates like soy sauce, hydrolyzed protein, yeast extract, etc. This adds free glutamates that act similarly to MSG.

So while bacon doesn’t have “added” MSG, it does naturally contain compounds that increase umami and enhance flavor in a similar way as added MSG.

Now let’s take a deeper look.

Glutamates in Bacon

As I mentioned earlier, bacon contains compounds called glutamates that enhance its savory umami flavor.

Glutamates are found naturally in foods like bacon through the curing and smoking process. Here are some of the details:

  • Many bacons are cured or brined in a salt water solution containing spices, sugars, and preservatives.

  • Ingredients like soy sauce, hydrolyzed vegetable or soy protein, yeast extract, and more are often added to the curing brine.

  • These ingredients are high in glutamates, which break down into glutamic acid or free glutamates during the curing process.

  • These free glutamates act similarly to added MSG by enhancing the umami flavor of the bacon.

  • Smoking bacon also releases glutamates and heightens umami flavors.

This gives bacon that irresistible umami taste similar to MSG, even without direct addition of MSG.

Reactions to Glutamates in Bacon

Since bacon contains free glutamates, could it trigger reactions in sensitive individuals similarly to added MSG?

Potentially, yes.

While not conclusively proven, some research shows there may be a connection between MSG and short-term reactions like:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Facial pressure
  • Numbness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain

However, it’s still debated whether MSG is definitively causing these effects or if they are due to other factors. Either way, some people do seem to react to glutamates.

So if you feel that you are sensitive to added MSG, the natural glutamates in bacon could possibly cause a similar reaction.

It’s also worth noting that sensitivity seems to occur in higher doses around 3 grams of glutamates or more. The amount of glutamates naturally occurring in a normal serving of bacon is likely much less.

But if you experience reactions consistently after eating bacon, it may be wise to minimize consumption of foods with glutamates like bacon, cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.

Tips for Buying Bacon

If you choose to eat bacon but want to limit exposure to glutamates, here are some tips:

  • Read ingredients lists – Avoid bacons with hydrolyzed proteins, yeast extracts, etc. Opt for those cured with basic salts.

  • Look for no MSG brands – Some bacon brands explicitly state “no MSG” on the packaging.

  • Buy uncured bacon – Uncured (or naturally cured) bacon won’t contain added curing agents that introduce glutamates.

  • Limit portion size – Even bacon with glutamates is fine in moderation. Stick to 1-2 slices max per serving.

Following these tips can help you enjoy bacon while reducing exposure to glutamates if you are sensitive.

The Bottom Line

So does bacon have MSG? The answer is no…and yes!

While most bacon doesn’t have added MSG, compounds are formed naturally through the curing and smoking process that contain free glutamates similar to MSG.

For most people, the naturally occurring glutamates in bacon are not an issue. However, some with sensitivities may potentially react.

By reading labels, understanding curing agents, and controlling portions, you can still enjoy delicious bacon even with a sensitivity to MSG.

What is MSG, and is it actually bad for you? – Sarah E. Tracy


What meats contain MSG?

6. Processed meats. Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meats, beef jerky, sausages, smoked meats, pepperoni, and meat snack sticks can contain MSG (17). Aside from being used to enhance taste, MSG is added to meat products like sausage to reduce the sodium content without changing the flavor ( 18 ).

Is bacon high in MSG?

The foods that contain high levels of L-glutamate, GMP and IMP are fish, shellfish, cured meats (hello, bacon!), mushrooms (hello, “new” bacon!), vegetables (e.g., ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, celery, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products involving bacterial or yeast cultures, such as cheeses, …

What bacon does not have MSG?

Nature’s Rancher bacon is made without the use of curing chemicals, smoked by real smoke and raised by real ranchers. You can’t go wrong with this bacon – it’s gluten, msg, and lactose free – and raised by conscientious ranchers who respect the heritage of naturally raised meat.

Does uncured bacon have MSG?

Our uncured bacon is naturally cured with no nitrates or nitrites added and completely FREE of: phosphates, artificial color, chemical preservatives, allergens, gluten and MSG.

Do bacon products contain MSG?

This little known plugin reveals the answer. Some bacon products include MSG. Another source is foods that have been processed extensively. Canned soups are a good example, as are pre-packaged deli meats, some bacon products, and things like pepperoni and cured ham slices.

What foods have MSG?

MSG is found in processed meat, such as hot dogs, lunch meat, beef jerky, sausages, smoked meat, pepperoni, and meat snack sticks. Aside from increasing flavor, MSG is added to meat products, such as sausage to lower salt levels while maintaining flavor. Convenience products, such as frozen foods, have MSG.

Does deli meat have MSG?

Canned soups, prepackaged deli meat, certain bacon products, and pepperoni and cured ham slices contain MSG. Foods that rely heavily on chemical preservatives to keep them fresh sometimes include monosodium glutamate. MSG preserves the taste of these products no matter how long they have been in the store.

How does MSG affect the taste of meat?

MSG preserves the taste of these products no matter how long they have been in the store. MSG is found in processed meat, such as hot dogs, lunch meat, beef jerky, sausages, smoked meat, pepperoni, and meat snack sticks. Aside from increasing flavor, MSG is added to meat products, such as sausage to lower salt levels while maintaining flavor.

Leave a Comment