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MSG - Dispelling the Myths

Fiction:

I read that MSG is not good for your health

Fact:

MSG is safe

  MSG is one of the most extensively researched food ingredients. Following are just some of the safety affirmations by world leading authorities.

  • Monosodium glutamate has been classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient since 1958. This is the safest classification a food ingredient can be given in the United States, along with pepper, sugar, vinegar and baking powder.

  • In 1987, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) was so convinced of MSG's safety that the Committee established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of "not specified" for international standards purposes. This is JECFA's best classification for food additives.

  • The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association issued a resolution in 1992 supporting MSG's safety.

  • The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a leading independent scientific organization, reaffirmed MSG's safety in an FDA-commissioned comprehensive review in an August 1995 report.

  • The Scientific Committee for Food of the commission of the European Communities evaluated leading-edge research on MSG in 1991, establishing an "ADI not specified" rating.


JECFA is a prestigious scientific advisory body to the WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) and the FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ORGANISATION (FAO) of the UNITED NATIONS.

Fiction:

MSG is artifical

Fact:

It is a natural flavour enhancer

  The FASEB has stated that: "The nature of L-glutamic acid (glutamate) is the same regardless of the source, i.e. free or protein bound in foods, manufactured as MSG, or as a component of hydrolyzed vegetable proteins." There is therefore no inherent difference between natural glutamate and MSG.

Fiction:

I'm allergic to MSG

Fact:

MSG is not an allergen

  Numerous studies have examined whether MSG in foods triggers allergic reactions. In 1991, the American College of Allergy and Immunology issued a position paper on the issue. The document concluded that MSG is not an allergen and that severe reactions have nothing to do with this ingredient. FASEB's August 1995 report also stated that MSG is not an allergen.

Fiction:

MSG causes "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."

Fact:

Studies have proven that MSG has no connection with the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

  The "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" describes transient discomfort that some feel after ingesting certain foods and beverages. In 1987, JECFA concluded that; " Properly conducted, double-blind studies among individuals who claimed to suffer from the syndrome did not confirm MSG as the causal agent."

A double-blind study is one which neither the subject nor the researcher conducting the study knows whether the test substance or a placebo has been administered.

Fiction:

MSG is bad for asthmatics.

Fact:

MSG does not cause asthmatic attacks.

  JECFA stated in 1987 that: "Monosodium glutamate has not been shown to provoke bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the bronchial tubes) in asthmatics." At its annual meeting in February 1997, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology announced the results of the two most recent studies on possible links between asthma and MSG. The research demonstrated that MSG does not cause asthma attacks among mild to severe asthmatics. Earlier studies at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation California, by Drs. Manning and Stevenson (1991) and at the U.S. National Institute of Health by Dr. John Metcalfe and associates (1991 and 1993) also concluded that MSG posed no respiratory hazard to normal subjects and to the asthmatic population studied.

Fiction:

MSG is a tenderizer or preservative that makes poor quality food better, right?

Fact:

Far from it...

  MSG is neither tenderizer nor preservative. It cannot make inferior food taste better. It is simply a natural flavour enhancer.

Fiction:

MSG cause hair loss.

Fact:

NO

  The components of MSG, that is Glutamate(80%), Sodium(12%) and Water, are common and abundant in nature. Human body and our common foods contain these substances. Various factors can cause hair loss, such as; genetic and ageing, hormonal changes, illness, medications, emotional and physical stress, radiation therapy etc. Anyone suffer from severe hair loss should get an expert advise rather than listen to hearsay.

Fiction:

I have to avoid MSG as it causes excessive sodium intake.

Fact:

On the contrary, MSG can help in reducing salt due to its Umami taste contribution to foods.

  MSG does contain sodium. So do many other foods. MSG usage in food is for its Umami taste (Chinese: Xian-Wei, English: Savoury). Human sensory tests have shown that when the salt level in food is reduced, food acceptability decreases. However, by using a small amount of MSG, salt intake can be reduced by as much as 20 to 30 percent as MSG maintain food palatability due to its Umami taste contribution. The taste of MSG has a self-limiting characteristic. Once proper amount is used, additional use contributes little, if anything at all, to food flavor. Generally, MSG should comprise 0.1 to 0.8 percent of a dish.

Fiction:

MSG cause headache

Fact:

No.

  MSG does not constrict or dilate blood vessels to cause headache. An extensive literature review found no evidence to support an association between MSG and migraine.