> Is the Controversial Food Additive, MSG, Good or Bad for You? - The Food Safety Company Is the Controversial Food Additive, MSG, Good or Bad for You? - The Food Safety Company
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    Wednesday, 8 February 2017

    Is the Controversial Food Additive, MSG, Good or Bad for You?

    Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a controversial food additive which many say is bad for your health, with American health website Mercola branding it as a ‘silent killer’. It’s largely associated with Chinese take-away food, the MSG being present in soy sauce, among other ingredients.

    The additive was invented in the early 1900s by Japanese man Kikunae Ikeda, who, with his partner, went on to form the world’s largest MSG producer Ajinomoto (translating to ‘essence of taste’ – makes sense)  Interestingly enough, Ajinomoto is also a pharmaceutical producer, creating links and raising questions to those who deem MSG as addictive. 

    Alongside its link to Chinese food, MSG is also found in canned soups, meats, salad dressings and frozen ready-meals, plus many more common food items.

    Symptoms of over-consumption of MSG have been collectively nicknamed as ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’. Reactions to too much MSG, known formally as the MSG symptom complex, include headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, heart palpitations, and nausea.  These symptoms are usually short-term and mild, not requiring medical treatment.

    With the hysteria around health damage MSG can cause starting in 1968, Chinese restaurants and take-away chains are now often seen advertising their food as ‘MSG-Free’ to avoid losing business from informed customers.

    Despite all this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have reported that MSG is ‘generally recognised as safe’. So, as with ingredients like sugar and fat, it’s said to be safe but in a reasonable amount.

    Food scientist Steve Witherley has gone further with challenging MSG’s bad rep, by reporting to Business Insider UK that ‘everyone should cook with MSG’.  Witherley has created his own ‘supersalt’ which consists of nine parts salt, one part MSG, along with touches of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate.

    He’s so confident with his supersalt he even encourages his children to ‘eat a little healthier’ by adding supersalt to their food; ‘that stuff is really powerful. For example, I had a whole-wheat pizza — and my kids hate whole wheat — so I put a little supersalt in the tomato sauce, and they sucked that whole thing down.’

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

    It seems the people’s opinions on MSG vary from one extreme to the other. As with a lot of ingredients, there are health risks, but the hysteria and worry of MSG being unhealthy seems to be less relevant today as compared to in the late 1960s.

    Laura Sewell

    An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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