Updating MSGdish readers on recent media attention to topics that we savor… MSG, Glutamate, Umami, and related food trends.

Everyone Should Be Cooking with MSG

Published in Business Insider, February 2, 2017

Author: Gus Lubin

seasoning foodTo many people, cooking with MSG and other strange chemicals sounds frightening. But according to food scientist Steve Witherly, the author of “Why Humans Like Junk Food,” the stuff is perfectly safe.

Believe it or not, most scientists agree on this point. Take it from the American Chemical Society, which says, “MSG can temporarily affect a select few when consumed in huge quantities on an empty stomach, but it’s perfectly safe for the vast majority of people.”

MSG’s bad reputation comes from a few early studies, including a 1968 report on “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” that blamed MSG for making people feel sick. In the decades since, however, there has been little support for the claim that MSG has prevalent negative effects. That sick feeling you get after stuffing your face with bad Chinese food could have to do with other ingredients or simply the act of overeating unhealthy food.

“MSG is pretty darn safe,” Witherly said. “We had research at UC Davis, when I was there, where we drank tumblers of it at about 25 grams, and nothing happened.”

Note regarding MSG consumption:
 The U.S. Food & Drug Administration in its Q&A on monosodium glutamate states, “A typical serving of a food with added MSG contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG.”

What is MSG and Is It Bad for You? Facts and Myths about the Popular Flavor Enhancer

Published in Medical Daily, September 22, 2016

Author: Dana Dovey

What is MSG

“Monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, is a popular food additive that has gotten a rather bad reputation. In a recent video, the team at Brit Lab helped us to better understand the fact and fiction surrounding MSG so you can determine for yourself whether or not you want to continue eating it.

“MSG activates the umami taste buds on our tongue, a category of taste that is savory and rich. According to Brit Lab, this is a flavor we are naturally inclined to like, as it is even found in breastmilk.

“MSG was first designed as a way to add flavor to otherwise boring foods in order to make them more enjoyable. It is found naturally in many foods, for example both parmesan cheese and tomatoes have high levels of MSG.

“Ultimately, Brit Lab concluded that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that MSG is bad for your health, and reassures us that we can continue to enjoy our favorite foods without fear.”

To watch the Brit Lab video on YouTube and learn more about Brit Lab, a channel from BBC Worldwide, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCy_0IN_vAE 

MSG Truth

Published in BuzzFeedBlue (YouTube Channel), July 25, 2016

Author: BuzzFeed

MSG Truth Video

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is delicious… and misunderstood.

Check out “The Truth about MSG” in this BuzzFeed video!:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZa3pGqxW1g

According to BuzzFeed,

“Now this may sound crazy – feel free to disagree – but what if MSG isn’t actually all that bad for you?

“As hard as it is to believe, there’s basically zero science to successfully connect MSG to any harmful side effects. Plus, the FDA says it’s “generally safe to eat”–it is legal, after all. Looks like MSG may just be a misunderstood friend.

“Surprisingly, tomatoes, soy extract and yeast extract all naturally have MSG in them. Glutamate (an element in MSG) is also in a ton of the things we eat all the time, including breast milk and dried mushrooms. So maybe it isn’t so bad?

“Check out the video above to learn more about it.”

BuzzFeed is a cross-platform, global network for news and entertainment that generates seven billion views each month. BuzzFeed creates and distributes content for a global audience and utilizes proprietary technology to continuously test, learn and optimize.

Some People Just Don’t Get the MSG

Published in mylespower.co.uk, June 3, 2016

Author: Myles Power

Rumors about MSG safety“It is theorised that we humans evolved to detect glutamate as a result of the advantages of eating cooked, aged, and fermented food. Prossesing our food in one or more of these ways would not only release glutamate but gives us access to more easily digestible protein and nutrients, and also provides access to probiotic bacteria, which help to maintain overall nutritional health, prevents disease, and fights gastrointestinal infections. Our ability to detect glutamate would therefore put us at an advantage and thus was selected for. This is why we crave umami tasting food and enjoy those that contain significant amounts of glutamate like cheese, meats, and mushrooms. Ikeda, realising the potential of this compound as a flavour enhancer, patented a method of mass-producing the glutamate sodium salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG). This salt has the added benefit of dissolving faster than the pure amino acid and has been used in cooking ever since.”

Concerns were first raised about MSG’s safety in 1968 after a man named Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine explaining that after he had eaten at a Chinese restaurant, he would develop hangover like symptoms. He believed that the MSG contained within his food was the cause of these symptoms.  “Since then the publication of decades of research have tried and failed to demonstrate a relationship between MSG and Robert’s symptoms yet still to this day some worry about adverse effects of ingesting this compound. Don’t get me wrong I think there are valid ethical concerns in lacing unhealthy food with MSG to make them irresistible, but MSG is not responsible for the plethora of conditions it is been blamed for online.”


Older, Not Old: Flavor Bombs with Umami and EVOO

Published in MindyHermann.com, February 19, 2016

Author: Mindy Hermann, MBA, RDN

Mindy Hermann, a registered dietitian and sought-after author and speaker, recently discussed umami and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) on her popular blog.  She writes:

“When I was a kid, and later during my dietetics education at UCLA, I learned about the four basic tastes in foods – sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Relatively recently a fifth taste, umami, joined the classic four. Umami translates as “savory,” and it’s hard to describe in words. To borrow from United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart ‘s “I know it when I see it” (referring to obscenity), you’ll know umami when you taste it. Think about how ingredients like aged Parmesan cheese or soy sauce bring out the flavor in a dish, a bit like the difference between musical notes played one at a time or in a chord. That’s umami. Ingredients and foods that contribute umami include meat, fish, aged cheeses, mushrooms, tomatoes, certain other vegetables, and monosodium glutamate.”

“Speaking of flavor and taste, if vision and hearing decline as we get older, what happens to our sense of taste? Sure seems like it gets duller — foods just don’t taste the same as they did when I was younger. Scientists are not yet sure why this happens, but a research group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands recently found that the brain of an older adult is less efficient than that of a younger adult at registering and integrating signals from the taste buds. The taste buds are talking but the brain isn’t listening. So you might find yourself looking for ways to bring out flavor in foods. Butter and salt are the best friends of many a chef, but most of us could do without the extra fat, calories, and sodium.”…

Umami and Taste

Our sense of taste gets weaker as we age.