MSG (Mono sodium Glutamate ): is it safe?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive and is commonly used as a flavor enhancer in Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed food including potato chips and hot dogs.

MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses. MSG is the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid.

AS per US FDA requirements if foods having any ingredient that naturally contain MSG, it cannot be claimed as “No MSG” or “No added MSG” on their packaging.

FDA has classified MSG as a food ingredient and considers that the addition of MSG to foods to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). However FDA requires that if foods containing added MSG, it should be listed on product label.

Now a day, MSG is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses, instead of extracting and crystallizing MSG from seaweed broth.

After eating the foods containing MSG, reports of adverse reactions has received at US FDA from various sources over the years.

 

Symptoms of these adverse reactions include:

 

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Flushing
  • Numbness
  • Palpitations
  • tingling
  • Facial pressure or tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness

 

However these symptoms are generally mild that may occur in some sensitive individuals and don’t require treatment.

There have been many studies since then that have failed to show a connection between MSG and the symptoms some people describe.

The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid foods containing MSG.

 

Chinese restaurant syndrome and MSG:

This is also called as MSG (monosodium glutamate) syndrome as the MSG is only suspected but not proven cause of these symptoms some peoples have observed after eating Chinese food that contains additive called monosodium glutamate (MSG). However scientific studies have failed to show the evidence that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the cause of this syndrome.

Symptom and Treatment:

 

  • In most of the cases mild symptoms such as headache or skin flushing, sweating, nausea and fatigue need not require any treatment, however immediate medical attention is required if symptoms are serious or life threatening such as Swelling in the throat, difficulty in breathing, Heart palpitations and Chest pain.

 

  • Persons who had past experience or incidence of such life threatening serious reactions or prone to allergic reactions should take extra care while eating such foods.

 

Reference:

Questions and answers on monosodium glutamate (MSG). U.S. Food and Drug Administration

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm328728.htm:assessed on may15 2015.

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