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“MSG recipes are popular on social media. Is the ingredient safe? While extensive research has shown MSG is safe, people have debated for years whether it causes side effects in a small subset of eaters.”

— The Washington Post, by Lindsey Bever

The article is written by Lindsey Bever, who is a Health and Well-Being Reporter for The Washington Post. In this well-researched article, she interviewed several food and health experts to get a scientific perspective about MSG’s use and safety.

Here are a few excerpts from her report:

“MSG is ‘an excellent flavor enhancer that when used in moderation similar to salt or sugar or various fats, can elevate a dish and is a safe way to bring that fifth sense, taste — that umami, that kind of meaty, delicious, almost hard-to-pinpoint flavor to certain foods,’ said Katherine Basbaum, a clinical dietitian at the University of Virginia Health System.”

“Monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of a common amino acid called glutamic acid, which is found in both plant and animal proteins, said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of the International Food Information Council. Glutamic acid is found naturally in many foods that we eat every day, including in tomatoes, cheeses, nuts, mushrooms, seafood and meats. MSG is produced through fermentation using certain ingredients such as starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses, and it contains about one-third of the sodium found in table salt.”

“In the 1990s, the FDA enlisted a group of independent scientists to study the safety of the seasoning. The scientists noted that people who are sensitive to MSG may experience short-term, temporary and non-life-threatening symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, palpitations and numbness and tingling, when consuming high levels of the ingredient — 3 grams or more without food. Most people would never eat that much. (A typical serving of added MSG in foods is less than 0.5 grams.)”

“ ‘In almost every ingredient that’s in the human food supply, whether it’s natural or synthetic, there may be some people who have a sensitivity or an adverse reaction,’ said Roger Clemens, an adjunct professor of pharmaceutical sciences and associate director of the regulatory science program at the University of Southern California. ‘If you look at the population at large, the answer is: It remains to be safe.’ ”

Read the full article here.

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