MSG -- Why such the bad rap?

Monosodium Glutamate is delicious. I’ve been thinking about getting a shaker of it for the kitchen. But I know there is a stigma attached to its usage in a lot of processed foods and junk food. Would this be a bad idea if I added a little to some chicken at home? How bad is it for you (the royal “you”)? Is it that much worse for you than say, salt?

A lot of people claim to have bad reactions when they ingest food with added MSG. Reactions may include wheezing, flushing, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, vertigo, palpitations, loss of consciousness, seizures, terminal flatulence, pruritic dentition, and luminous urine. To name just a few.

Studies have tended to show that many such people who claim such reactions have them also when given food they think has MSG in it even when the food actually contains no MSG.

But some people seem genuinely sensitive to it. They should avoid it.

Hey, if it doesn’t bother you, go for it. I love the stuff myself.

Unca Cec speaks…

There was an interesting article on MSG in last week’s Observer newspaper here in the UK - basically asking if MSG causes so many problems, why doesn’t all of China havea headache from it:

Might add some extra flavour to the debate.

Pfff. Typical day at the office, for me. Although, terminal flatulence sounds like a horrible way to go.

Move over salt & pepper, here comes MSG!

Harold McGee’s book “On Food and Cooking” suggests that the bad rap happened because some people have a strong allergic reaction to it, causing the general public to be alarmed unnecessarily. (Similar public freakouts can be seen in products such as Quorn and Wow Potato Chips)

Glow-In-The-Dark Pee?!!!

I’ve got to try that!

I buy the stuff by the kilogram at Smart & Final and use it in everything—I believe that it’s as harmless as it is tasty. Back in the early 1970’s there was a huge whoopdedoo about Chinese restaurant syndrome, which is where all of the negative publicity about MSG came from. In the early 1970’s, a large portion of the American population also believed that houseplants were sentient beings that need soft classical music and soothing conversation to achieve optimal health. They also believed that Welcome Back, Kotter was quality entertainment. It was sort of America’s period of cultural insanity.

Not to mention, it would really aid in those pesky middle-of-the-night pees. Think: tracer ammunition.

Does MSG occur naturally when Soy Sauce is brewed ? Also is there any good cites on how MSG works to make things taste good, is it similar to the way salt works to bring out flavours?

I’m not sure about soy sauce, but Harold McGee’s book says that it’s present in kombu—a species of edible seaweed which is used in Japanese cooking to make soup bases. As I understand it, MSG is umami, a recently discovered fifth taste, the first four being sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Ugh. I don’t use MSG. When I do manage to ingest some, usually at a restaurant, my urine smells so foul for the next 24 hours it makes me gag. :eek:

So you don’t eat cheese? tomatoes? mushroom? pizza? soy sauce?

are you sure it’s not asparagus?

Also my favorite question for a grossly positive ROS.

That was a great article. Thanks for posting it.

To think I’ve been missing a great natural flavoring, just because I was taught it was ‘bad for me’. :wally



Ah, the ROS! Also known as “giving ammunition to hypochondriacs”.

For those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about, here’s a brief and incomplete list of ROS questions.

Doc, did you in a past life work in Vaudville?

Patient to Doc, waving hand in circle above his head:

“Doc, it hurts when I do this.”


"Then don’t do that!

Which part of the above is it difficult for anyone to grasp?

? What the heck is pruritic dentition? Is it just itchy teeth? And what’s “a grossly positive” Review of Symptoms?

Confused Law Student, who will explain the rule against perpetuities in exchange, if you so desire (trust me, you don’t)