MSG Masqueraders

March 6, 2008 at 2:03 am Leave a comment

Since the 1970s, MSG has gotten a bad rap. Due to several reported instances of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome in which diners experienced numbness, palpitations and weakness after eating Chinese food, MSG was labeled toxic to the body and shunned by consumers throughout the United States.

A range of studies were conducted to find out how bad MSG really was for us. “Virtually all studies since then confirm that monosodium glutamate in normal concentrations has no effect on the overwhelming majority of people“. The studies debunked the theory that MSG is harmful to our systems, but the negative impression lingers.

Are you still trying to avoid MSG? If so, be aware that it remains a key flavor enhancer in many convenience foods. The name’s just been changed, this time to protect the guilty. If you flip the box or bag over and see hydrolyzed soy protein or autolyzed yeast in the list of ingredients, that product is made with an MSG derivative.

“According to U.S.D.A. guidelines, ‘labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.’ But other glutamates — the hydrolyzed proteins, the autolyzed yeasts and the protein concentrates, which the U.S.D.A. acknowledges are related to MSG — must be identified under their own names.”

“Alternatively, they may also be included under certain terms, like vegetable broth or chicken broth. Thus, these ingredients are now routinely found in products like canned tuna (vegetable broth is listed as an ingredient; it contains hydrolyzed soy protein), canned soup, low-fat yogurts and ice creams, chips and virtually everything ranch-flavored or cheese-flavored.”

Even with my focus on eating cleaner, I personally have no problem with MSG. It’s fine in reasonable doses. It’s important, though, for consumers to be educated about what they’re putting into their bodies. Now that you know, you can avoid food containing these forms of MSG if you choose to.


Entry filed under: clean eating, food review, science. Tags: , , .

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