MSG, Umami, Glutamate News

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


MSG – The Special Ingredient That Makes Food Addictively Tasty – Won’t Actually Hurt You

Published in Business Insider, August 3, 2013

Author: Robert Ferris

Excerpt from the article:

Despite what some of its opponents have long claimed, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) may have nothing to do with those headaches you get after eating Chinese food, and may not be bad for you at all.

A post by Alan Levinovitz in New Scientist brought to our attention the data showing that MSG sensitivity is, for most people, only in their heads.

Despite the persistent absence of any scientific evidence, some people claim to suffer from a sensitivity to the food additive, which is used in everything from Asian cuisines, to American fast food and packaged snacks.

Read more (the full article):


Has MSG gotten a bad rap?

Published in Chicago Tribune, July 17, 2013

Author: Bill Daley

Excerpt from the article:

Leslie Stein, science communications director for the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, an independent institute that studies taste and smell, is somewhat surprised at the lingering taint on MSG. “There really is no evidence it has a deleterious effect,” she says, dismissing the “syndrome” as an “old wives’ tale.”

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What if your gluten intolerance is all in your head? (and what about “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”?)

Published in New Scientist, July 11, 2013

Author: Alan Levinovitz

Excerpt from the article:

Science, that sworn enemy of circumstantial evidence, marched on, and slowly but surely physiological explanations of Chinese restaurant syndrome began to lose credibility. Double-blinded studies failed to turn up evidence of a clinical condition. MSG, many people noted, appears in everything from sushi to Doritos. Journalists performed experiments similar to mine, their results echoing the consensus of professional scientists: in the overwhelming majority of cases, MSG sensitivity is a psychological phenomenon.

Despite this thorough debunking, a surprisingly large number of people – generally those who lived through the epidemic – still insist they are sensitive to MSG. Google around and you’ll turn up scores of alarmist websites, which tend to combine outdated research with anecdotal, indignant rebuttals of the current scientific wisdom: “How dare you suggest my MSG sensitivity is only in my head? Why, just the other day I went out for Chinese and forgot to ask about MSG. After 45 minutes I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing.”

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Chemophobia & The Myth of MSG

Published in University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) “Science and Food” blog, July 4, 2013

Author: Harold McGee

Excerpt from the article:

Chemistry professor Michelle Francl challenges our culture of chemophobia, while Harold McGee addresses some common misconceptions about “Chinese restaurant syndrome” and MSG.  Video — The Myth of MSG with Harold McGee – Mind of a Chef (PBS) via YouTube:

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Umami Burger

Published in University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) “Science and Food” blog, July 2, 2013

Author: Liz Roth-Johnson

Excerpt from the article:

Although umami was initially associated only with Asian cuisines, researchers all over the world have now established umami as one of the five basic taste groups.

…Despite their different names, glutamate, glutamic acid, and monosodium glutamate are essentially the same molecule and behave the same way in our bodies.

Read more (the full article):