MSG (Monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer. It comes from a common amino acid, glutamic acid, and must be declared as monosodium glutamate on meat and poultry labels. It is used commonly in seasoning salts, soups, spices, condiments, meats, some baked goods, and candies. Other fermented and Asian food preparations contain MSG, as do most food dishes served in Chinese restaurants.
Is MSG Safe?
MSG is found naturally in foods such as soybeans, beets, and seaweeds. Glutamic acid seems to affect brain chemistry, and certain tests in animals suggest that high amounts of MSG can cause brain damage.The reason? MSG is an excitotoxin – a substance that literally stimulates neurons to death.
Food manufacturers stopped the use of MSG in baby food in 1969. More recently “Chinese restaurant syndrome” has become associated with the use of MSG. Symptoms occurring after eating foods high in MSG include burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest, numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back, tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms, facial pressure or tightness, chest pain, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma, drowsiness, weakness.
What’s more, MSG is a powerful obesogen that causes overeating and weight gain.
Sneaky Words That Mean MSG in Food Labels
Monosodium glutamate is only ONE of the names you need to watch out for when avoiding MSG. It is also hidden under many other monikers like:
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- hydrolyzed protein
- sodium caseinate
- calcium caseinate
- yeast extract
- textured protein
- autolyzed yeast
- malt extract
- malt flavoring
- natural flavoring
- soy protein concentrate
In fact, MSG and free glutatmates are used to flavor 80% of all processed foods!
Healing Gourmet does not endorse products containing MSG.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Backgrounder August 31, 1995, FDA and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html.
Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/additive.htm