The Washington Post: Why Some Americans Avoid MSG Even Though Its 'Health Effects' Have Been Debunked, by Caitlin Dewey
Caitlin Dewey: Reporter, The Washington Post
“When it comes to MSG, there’s a great deal of evidence that consumer fears have been misplaced.”
“A chemical variant of glutamate — a substance that occurs naturally in high-umami foods, such as Parmesan cheese, walnuts, soy sauce and tomatoes — monosodium glutamate has been widely eaten since the early 20th century, when a Japanese scientist first distilled it from seaweed.”
“Numerous high-quality studies of MSG have failed to demonstrate significant symptoms, even in people who claim to suffer from MSG reactions. In the 1990s, the FDA commissioned an independent review that found MSG only caused adverse effects in a small minority of “sensitive individuals” who ate large amounts on an empty stomach.”
“Instead, historians and researchers have blamed the initial symptoms that Kwok [in 1968] and others attributed to MSG on a variety of other sources: excess sodium or alcohol consumed with restaurant meals, a version of the placebo effect, growing skepticism of corporations, and deep-seated, anti-Asian prejudice.”…
20 March 2018
Aaron E. Carroll: NYT writer and professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine
“Many people still wrongly believe that MSG is poison. We certainly don’t need MSG in our diet, but we also don’t need to waste effort avoiding it. Our aversion to it shows how susceptible we are to misinterpreting scientific research and how slow we are to update our thinking when better research becomes available. There’s no evidence that people suffer disproportionately from the afflictions — now ranging from headaches to asthma — that MSG-averse cultures commonly associate with this ingredient. In studies all over the world, the case against MSG just doesn’t hold up.”…
4 November 2017
Photo reprinted from the International Food Information Council Foundation, 2017
“These days, there are too many food myths to count. Even with so much noise out there, some common myths continue to capture our attention. Some of these common misperceptions center on monosodium glutamate, or MSG. It’s about time we expose a few of the common myths you may have heard”…
24 August 2017
Food Director Carla Lalli Music
“Eventually, while working in a restaurant, I learned what umami was—a.k.a., the “fifth taste,” a.k.a. the reason why we say “mmmmmm.” When we eat umami-rich foods, we experience it as a savory/rich/delicious taste sensation, and it’s human nature to want more. Fact is, monosodium glutamate is a naturally-occurring substance in lots of foods, including mushrooms, tomatoes, dry-aged meat, soy sauce, and Parmesan. Store-bought MSG is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring thing, and it has the same effect on our taste buds. Which is why those Doritos were so incredibly satisfying and addictive!”…
23 August 2017
Dr Michael Mosley:
Journalist and presenter
The BBC’s new series “The Secrets of Your Food” features lots of interesting material. In this BBC Health blog about the program, Dr Michael Moseley talks about trying to extract umami from tomatoes…
3 March 2017
Australian Financial Review Editor
There are doubtless many things in the world that human beings have long known about but didn’t have a name for, and umami is one of them. The fifth taste, after sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness, was identified and named only a little over a century ago, and defined as a taste in its own right much more recently. It is often described as savory or meaty or brothy, or as having a full or rounded flavor.
Greg Foot: Brit Lab
Dare Devil Science Communicator Greg Foot has posted a great explanation of MSG on the Brit Lab YouTube channel – click the ‘More’ button and let Greg tell you all about it.
PictureFit: Health & Fitness made simple.
The PictureFit YouTube Channel, which provides videos on “health and fitness made simple,” hits the nail on the head with this video questioning misleading and inaccurate claims about “No MSG” and “No Added MSG” by some food companies and restaurants.
Food & Nutrition magazine: ``Make low-salt cooking taste amazing with an umami boost`` by Michele Redmond
Michele Redmond, MS, RDN:
Dietitian / Nutritionist / Chef
According to the article, “Foods containing glutamates naturally yield MSG, and neither the body nor the taste buds distinguish between glutamate naturally present in food proteins or MSG. While impacts on sodium-reduction efforts can be significant… amplifying umami also can serve as a technique for home cooks looking to create meals that deliver the same savory satisfaction” [with much less sodium].
Thrillist blogger Erin Kelly has been investigating where some of those horror stories about MSG originate…she’s found some good sources of information, and done a great job, except for Ms. Palisnski-Wade’s hypothesis about “MSG allergy” (there’s no such thing as MSG allergy). Anyway, here’s what Erin has to say.
Scientific American Video Journalist
Popular media has blamed monosodium glutamate (MSG) for all sorts of maladies, from asthma to migraines to autism; however, scientific evidence has found it isn’t something to be concerned about.
Science Friday Story Producer
Order from any number of Chinese takeout restaurants these days, and you might notice that many menus boast “No Added MSG.” The label can also be found in supermarket aisles on snack foods or on packaged seasonings.
The labels are meant to ease consumers’ worries, because MSG, which is used as a flavor enhancer, has for decades been popularly linked to various health problems, such as headaches and allergic reactions. It’s even been considered a factor in infantile obesity.
Long before wheat and sugar, a popular craze against salt swept America. The salt in this case was the popular flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), common in Chinese food, soups and meats. Glutamic acid is also naturally present in our bodies.
It was used as an additive starting in 1908, it gives food its savory umami flavor, but once it got public attention, anecdotes began to pour in about lots of non-specific symptoms that were supposedly caused by it, despite the fact that hundreds of millions of Chinese people did not report headaches.
Writer for the magazine Time
More Dialogue about Umami and MSG
- All About MSG – Is MSG Bad for You?
Food52 blog on Huffington Post Food for Thought
- You say Umami, I say MSG: How the two are one and the same
Kelsey Lindsey on FoodDive
- Umami: Why the Fifth Taste is So Important
Amy Fleming, Word of Mouth in The Guardian