The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate Are All-Vegetable Flavor Enhancers

Posted on March 21, 2011 by The VRG Blog Editor

by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director

A reader wrote to The VRG in March 2011 stating that he had heard that disodium guanylate was sourced from fish. He asked us to look into it.

Disodium guanylate, known by many names including disodium 5’-guanylate, is derived from a nucleotide, guanosine monophosphate (GMP). It is similar to disodium inosinate, also known as disodium 5’-inosinate, which comes from another nucleotide, inosine monophosphate (IMP). The two together are frequently referred to as 5’-nucleotides (read as “five prime nucleotides.”) Nucleotides are naturally occurring substances found mostly in meats although shiitake mushrooms are also high in nucleotides. Nucleotides are components of information-carrying molecules (such as DNA) as well as important molecules involved in many diverse aspects of human metabolism.

In the flavor industry, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are commonly known as disodium ribotides (“I + G.”) It is typically sold in a 50:50 mixture of the two ribotides. It is the I + G in combination with glutamates (naturally occurring from glutamic acid, an amino acid found in proteins) which imparts the umami (i.e., savory or meaty) flavor to foods. Only very small amounts are needed to yield a very savory taste sensation.

A small amount of I + G may be added to a food to replace some monosodium glutamate (MSG). (MSG is itself used to reduce the salt, or sodium chloride, content of a food while providing a meaty flavor due to its glutamate content.) The effect of this addition is to impart a magnification of the savory taste sensation by enhancing a food’s natural flavors. The overall result is even less sodium chloride in the final product. One manufacturer’s quality assurance manager told us that “actually [food companies] can use one of them, either disodium inosinate or disodium guanylate [to get the flavor enhancement], but they usually use both of them.” In fact, disodium guanylate is responsible for stronger flavor enhancement than is disodium inosinate.

The VRG spoke to three leading manufacturers of disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate about these common flavor enhancers. All of them reported that they produce I + G by microbial fermentation. Their growth media are all-vegetable, usually consisting mainly of tapioca starch.

The Ajinomoto product of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate is called “Ajitide I + G.” The process was described as one in which the “nucleoside precursors” of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate are first produced by microbial fermentation. After further processing, the end products are the nucleotides, GMP and IMP. These nucleotides are then separated from the fermentation medium, purified and crystallized. The nucleotides are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food use. “The product does not contain animal products…” according to company documents.

One of our sources in the regulatory affairs department of her company that produces I + G from yeast stated that since they are flavor products of a natural process, “they can be labeled [on a food package] as ‘natural flavors.’ There’s no need to list them as ‘disodium inosinate’ or disodium guanylate.’”

A manufacturer of hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) told us that when his company adds disodium inosinate (as a flavor enhancer) to a TVP product that he sells to another company, it is clearly stated on his label. He did not know, however, if his buyer, by federal regulation, must state on the label of the final food product that disodium inosinate is present. Interested readers may wish to inquire with food companies if they have questions about the “natural flavors” or the “flavor enhancers” used in food products but which may or may not appear as an ingredient on the label.

I + G is usually used in conjunction with monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast extracts, and/or HVP. In the yeast extracts and HVP, their glutamates combine with salt present in the food to form MSG. The glutamates also combine with I + G to produce a greater savory taste. In many cases, a synergistic flavor profile results which means the resulting savoriness is more than the sum of each component’s contribution to the taste if used separately. I + G, MSG, HVP and yeast extracts are often used in soups, sauces, and seasonings as well as in fast food and packaged rice or noodle premixes. I + G may also be used alone to enhance flavor as long as the food item is high in natural glutamates (tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, etc.)

The use of all these ingredients, by themselves or in some combination, usually permits the reduction of the total sodium chloride (salt) content of the packaged premix or prepared food while enhancing the food’s salty and savory flavors.

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The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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19 to “Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate Are All-Vegetable Flavor Enhancers”

  1. B Khan says:


    Wikipedia has a different view on the origin of Disodium inosinate.
    And here is a copy.

    Disodium inosinate is generally produced from meat or from fish. Therefore, disodium inosinate may not be suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and in most cases not suitable for Jews and Muslims.

  2. B Khan says:

    Here is more from various other websites:
    Disodium Inosinate

    ……..It is a purine – a naturally occurring precursor to DNA and RNA – and is almost always derived from animal origin.
    …… Those who do not consume animal derived foods (such as vegetarians and vegans) should avoid this ingredient.

  3. Thanks, B Khan, for your comment.

    As the VRG researcher who contacted and spoke with manufacturers of these ingredients, I reported in the blog post exactly what I was told. To the best of my knowledge, it is true. I do not know the source(s) of information used by the authors of the links you provide but question their veracity. I also wonder if they may be out-of-date.

    Jeanne Yacoubou
    VRG Research Director

  4. Rizraz says:

    This is one of the most responsible blogs I’ve read on the subject of I+G. I’m a food scientist and work with the stuff on a regular basis. Some peoples views on these kinds of things are almost always skewed. Kooks. Why would a manufacturer produce a product that would exclude vegetarians, vegans, and various religious groups when they can make it from a starch (tapioca) its cheaper and more effective in every way. I’d trust the blogger and manufacturer over wikipedia alllllll day. Just because you cant pronounce it doesnt mean its bad for you. I+G is usually used because the other ingredients are shit and the company is looking to cut cost while making a “tastier” product. Id be more worried about the crap ingredients than the I+G. I+G is usually less than .5% of a formula which would roughly equal 2-3grams in a gallon of sauce…..nothing

  5. lauren morley says:

    Dsodium inosinate should not be in the by-products to make food addicting! Especially in junk food.

  6. sfont says:


  7. nina says:

    sfont: yes, unfortunately it is allowed because it’s considered natural, i’d suspect it’s also in many organically labeled products, although I completely agree with you I don’t want it in my food either. not only does it cause headaches but i’ve read in various articles that it affects neurons in the brain and is linked to causing brain tumors, don’t quote me on that because I can’t find all the original articles to cite them but I remember reading it many times….

  8. Renee says:

    Thank you so much for this! I just heard it was not vegetarian and I started looking at some stuff it is in and FREAKED because it seems to be in everything! This has put me to ease a lot. Thanks! Wikipedia says a completely different thing, but I guess that is because it is wikipedia 🙂

  9. Omario says:

    yes it is in everything (almost)
    and YES you SHOULD FREAK

    the eugenics agenda is in it’s advanced stages and has been occulted well

    thank you for waking up

  10. Natasha says:

    To rizraz’s comment… I get severe migraines from msg. I have been hospitalized for them & dehydration from vomiting. This is most often from eating at a restaurant that isn’t honest about their ingredients, or eating something that appeared safe from the ingredients. This is not just in cheap chips, it is in EVERYTHING. Worse still these companies are breaking the law by being deceitful in labeling. This can be listed as “natural flavorings” but it is actually MSG? Unacceptable & dangerous.

  11. Uliiiie says:

    Every time I eat food containing these ingredients I wind up in the emergency room, with a busted swollen bleeding blue tongue. This is truly poison. It is a chemical that hides
    in your food to cause harm. May be one of the apocalyptic
    end of the world killers.

  12. Atihcnoc says:

    Uliiiie, are you talking about Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate? or about MSG.


  13. laurie says:

    I’d also like to know if Uliiiie is speaking of MSG or the other ingredients. I can tell you from personal experience that MSG can cause atrial fibrillation to an extent that may require hospitalization. I would like to see stronger laws on USE of MSG – not just PUBLICATION of its use. For people who are affected, it can be as serious as a peanut allergy is for those affected – it can be life-threatening.

  14. SatToe says:

    Ok, worse than MSG is Aspartame. A food additive manufactured by a pharmaceutical company that happens to manufacture the drugs used to treat the conditions caused by the food additive. The food ‘flavor enhancer’ is FDA approved. but to get it approved, Searle, the company’s owner hired donald rumsfeld as CEO, the US attorney in charge of the grand jury investigation, samuel skinner, requested by the FDA for knowingly misrepresenting findings, concealing facts, and making false statements in the safety tests. Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president, Rumsfeld is on Reagan’s transition team and hand picks the new FDA commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes Jr., One of his first official acts is to approve aspartame for use in foods and a week later takes a job as public relations executive for Searle. The company is now owned by Monsanto.

  15. Lee Ross says:

    For what it’s worth: I am MSG sensitive and get horrific migraines and other physical symptoms if I eat too much MSG. DSI and DSG are like MSG on steriods. They have the same negative effect on those sensitive to glutamtes but it’s much more powerful. I can tolerate a low amount of MSG, but no amount of DSI/DSG. Indeed I’ve been nearly hospitalized twice after eating that stuff, and was off work for days. I would not say much if it was just me, but I’ve met two other people who have the same issue, and will tell you that these additives are much much worse than MSG for prompting their symptoms. If you can eat this stuff, fine, but please beware of serving it to others without warnings. It can have very dire consequences for those who are sensitive to glutamates. The worst part is that some companies will label an item MSG free even if it has DSI and DSG, so if you dont’ real all the ingredients you can be in big trouble. These items are my number one migraine triggers, by a very wide margin.

  16. RAJENDRA JAIN says:

    both are permissible or not

  17. Sanjay says:

    Whether combination of these two chemicals is vegetarian or non-vegetarian is not clear and what are the sources for getting veg form

  18. Rose says:

    I have an a food allergy to fish, shellfish & mollusk. I worried when I read about the possibility that these ingredients were from fish sources, as anaphylactic reactions to the seafood ingredients are a real issue for me.

    Thank you for this information.

  19. Thanks for this informative article!

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