Sunday, October 17, 2010

MSG (Monosodium glutamate, Glutamic acid)

Ok, so I have heard stuff about's bad for you...look for it on labels...don't buy foods with it in them...Chinese restaurants use a ton of it in their food...they change the name around so it is sometimes hard to find when reading labels...all of this has been nothing but confusing to me.  So, here I go....researching away.  I hope you learn something from this post, because I can TELL you I DID!!!  :-)

Ok, let's start with the definition taken from Wikipedia...
It is used as a food additive and is commonly marketed as a flavor enhancer.  Trade names of monosodium glutamate include Ajinomoto, Vetsin, Accent and Tasting Powder. It was once made predominantly from wheat gluten, but is now made mostly from bacterial fermentation; it is acceptable for coeliacs following a gluten-free diet.

Modern commercial MSG is produced by fermentation of starch, sugar beets (which are GMO), sugar cane, or molasses. About 1.5 million tonnes were sold in 2001.  Although once associated with foods in Chinese restaurants, MSG is now used by most fast-food chains and in many foodstuffs, in particular, processed foods.

Examples include:

Prepared stocks often known as stock cubes or bouillon cubes.
Condiments such as barbecue sauce and salad dressings.
Canned, frozen, or dried prepared food
Common snack foods such as flavoured jerky, flavoured potato chips (crisps) and flavoured tortilla chips.
Seasoning mixtures

Fermented products such as soy sauce, steak sauce, and Worcestershire sauce have levels of glutamate similar to foods with added MSG. However, glutamate in these brewed products may have 5% or more of the D-enantiomer.

It appears that in 1995 our FDA concluded that MSG is safe for us to eat when "eaten at customary levels."  Some people do have an intolerance to MSG when eaten which can worsen asthma.  And read more below.  But wow did I find a different take when I clicked on Glutamic acid (the chemical name for MSG used in flavoring).

In 2008 the New York Times published an article that linked MSG intake to an increase in body weight.  The study concluded that for every 0.04 ounce daily increase in MSG intake, B.M.I. went up by 0.61.

Words to look for if trying to stay away from MSG...
hydrolyzed vegetable proteins
autolyzed yeast
hydrolyzed yeast
yeast extract
soy extracts
protein isolate
disodium inosinate
disodium guanylate
ribonucleotides (are usually used in synergy with monosodium glutamate-containing ingredients.) 

I know that is a lot of science, but I like science, you can skim the info above if you want.  :-)

Glutamic acid (MSG) stimulates specific receptors located in taste buds.  Which in Japanese means umami also referred to as "savory" or "meaty".

There is a term called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome," which is defined as, this syndrome, which usually begins 15 to 20 minutes after an individual has eaten the first dish of a food with MSG, lasts for about two hours, without hangover effect. The most prominent symptoms are numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, general weakness and palpitations." Guess I need to pay attention the next time I get talked into going out to eat Chinese, huh'?!

More symptoms have included burning sensations, numbness, tingling, feelings of warmth, facial pressure or tightness, chest pain, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, bronchospasm in people with asthma, drowsiness, and weakness.

Scientists are particularly concerned with potential effects in infants and young children...very concerned about potential brain damage.  WHAT???!!!???!!!  Take a look at your Goldfish crackers and snack foods we give out toddlers....and think about what we eat when baby is in our bellies!

In 2008 American and Chinese researching found direct correlation between MSG intake and obesity in humans!!!

As, I research there are studies that show MSG is bad and studies that show that it is not.  I am choosing to believe that it is and not allowing it to come into my home. is the BIG problem...the FDA has declared that if MSG has been added to a food it must be labeled as such in the ingredient listings ...MSG or Monosodium glutamate.  But....the FDA does not require foods and ingredients that contain glutamate as an inherent component to be listed it on the ingredients list.  Examples include tomatoes, cheeses, meats, hydrolyzed protein products such as soy sauce, and autolyzed yeast extracts. These ingredients are to be declared on the label by their common or usual names.  Which are.....
disodium inosinatedisodium guanylate and hydrolyzed protein.  So...there's more for you to look for.  :-)

Happy label reading.  :-)

More side effects related in MSG intake
heart irregularities

Click here to read more detailed info on where MSG is hidden from a Truth in Labeling Campaign.  This also teaches you what ingredient labels to look for.  Or click here for the list of hidden names for MSG.

I can tell you that the Cheddar Ducks from Meijer's Organic line are what I am giving the kids right now.  And I am in the process of switching my crackers and snack crackers to either Meijer Organic brands or 365 brand from Whole Foods. 

I read my taco seasoning ingredients and there was MSG.  Oh, how comforting.  Now, it's another topic of discussion what I am going to do when we go out to eat.  Oh boy....sometimes knowledge is stressful.  LOL  Just kidding.

Give me some feedback on this one.  :-)

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