What is MSG?
MSG stands for Mono Sodium Glutamate. It is the name given to synthetically manufactured glutamate, first made by The Ajinomoto company more than 100 years ago. It is usually made from sugar cane. It is used as a flavour enhancer. Glutamate provides a flavour sensation called Umami which is described as a “pleasant savoury taste”. Annual production of MSG was 1.7m tons in 2013.
What is Glutamate?
Glutamate is produced by the human body. It is found in all protein containing foods and especially in mother’s milk, cheese, tomatoes, yeast and some green vegetables. Chemically both Glutamate and MSG are absolutely identical and our bodies treat them in the same way. The average American consumes 11g of natural glutamate from food every day of which one gram is added by manufacturers. Our bodies produce about 50 grams of glutamate per day. Human milk has 10 times more MSG in it than cow’s milk. If you were breastfed, then your first meal was full of MSG/Glutamate.
Initially products were sold as "MSG free", now the labelling says "No added MSG". If they were really concerned about a potential health problem with MSG why not say "contains MSG" on all those products where it occurs?
Is MSG bad for you?
The short answer is I honestly don’t think so. (T&C’s apply – everything in moderation). There is some recent “research” that claims MSG/Glutamate affects and excites the brain in a way that may be detrimental. This may or may not be true and has mostly been rejected my mainstream science, but if added MSG makes up only 1g of the 62g our bodies process each day, then I would submit that the risks attached to added MSG are quite low.
A great deal is made of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) which claims that food high in MSG gives people headaches. It’s a claim that is widely accepted as false. This is an amusing TV trial on CRS. Refer link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW__LPYTlk0
Both the US Federal Drug Administration and the Australian and New Zealand Health Authority, conclude that MSG is completely safe for human consumption.
Our conclusion’s and thoughts on MSG
MSG/Glutamate is much needed by the human body to remain healthy. It is an extremely effective salt replacer. 1g of MSG gives the same salty taste as 10 grams of salt. Generally foods without MSG are higher in salt. Those that are too low in salt are often inedible and require that the consumer drenches it with salt to render it palatable.
We encourage you to make up your own mind. There are many websites that knock MSG. We think that the link below is independent well researched and a good starting point, and please read what the US FDA has to say on this subject. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2005/jul/10/foodanddrink.features3
US FDA link on MSG: http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm328728.htm