“Oh, we always make sure to ask for no MSG when we eat Chinese food.” “I never allow my kids to eat anything with MSG.” “We’d never eat at any restaurant that uses MSG.” “It’s horrendous that MSG is even allowed to be used in food that could be given to kids.”
These are comments I’ve actually heard from consumers and patients. What these same consumers have actually done is let me know they are very misinformed. How? Read on.
What’s junk science? It’s “pseudo-science.” It’s when someone or some group with an agenda uses – or references – poorly done research to attempt to prove a point they want to make. It’s also when such persons or groups twist the conclusion of good research to fit an agenda. It’s misleading but it happens all the time in news stories. At best, junk science is misleading. When it’s intentional, it’s almost fraudulent.
To help sort out all the consumer confusion caused by junk science, the American Society of Nutrition, the American College of Nutrition, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formed a partnership called the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance. The Alliance developed a list of “Ten Red Flags of Junk Science” examples, according to Tufts University.
It’s May and temperatures are rising, plants are sprouting, and the sun is still shining as I drive home from work. I feel more peppy than usual.
This feeling and month connect me to that wonderful song from Camelot entitled “The Lusty Month of May.” Here Queen Guinevere proclaims to her loyal subjects: May is the time for Spring Fever!
The question I posed as the title of this blog is a good one that needs revisiting often. Why? Because it puzzles me that some people still are not aware that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a perfectly safe food ingredient.
While the internet can be a blessing (and yes, it is here to stay), it also can be a curse. A curse? Here’s the thinking about that. Years of inaccurate information and anecdotal tales of woe have been posted and reposted and reposted again about MSG safety. Individuals who don’t believe it is safe or do not understand that the science supports MSG’s safety often sensationalize it. In this day and age where ‘sexy’ sells, outrageous information is what too often grabs attention. Tried and true science can be a bit boring, hence the perpetual posting of untruths about MSG.
There are bona fide experts throughout the culinary world who achieved knowledge and skills in their profession after intensive training (and even certification). For example, a sommelier is a highly trained and knowledgeable wine professional who specializes in all facets of wine service as well as wine and food pairing.
However, there are also those of us who simply love wine and possess a significant amount of knowledge about it. A wine lover with no formal training is known as an “oenophile.” I’m sure you will agree there are many more oenophiles in the world than there are sommeliers.
Similar to oenophiles, many of us profess to be experts on umami, so we are going to playfully coin the term “Umami Master,” a person who would be very knowledgeable in that they could know facts about umami, identify the savory taste of umami, and thoroughly enjoy this savory fifth taste in foods.
To help determine if you might be an umami novice or a seasoned “Umami Master,” here’s a short quiz to test your knowledge of “all things umami.” Give it a shot!