What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and is it really bad for us?

by Sanjeev Kapoor

The debate about the pros and cons of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is no ancient Chinese secret. Cooks in the 1950s and 1960s used this food additive mainly as a meat tenderizer. MSG has since become more commonly associated with Chinese fast food (unless you ask for it to be omitted, which people often do). This flavour enhancer, used for almost a century, is made by fermenting starch, corn, sugar beets, molasses, or sugar cane. The final product is glutamate. Glutamate itself is a natural form of protein found in cheese, milk, meat, walnuts and mushrooms. 

MSG first came under censure and study in the late 1960s, after people reported variety of physical symptoms that includes severe headaches, a sensation of flushed burning skin in the neck and chest areas, nausea, rapid heartbeat and difficulty in breathing. These symptoms are collectively known as the MSG symptom complex. MSG is now thoroughly studied and most monitored ingredient by the FMGC-sector and the consumers. However, both the American Medical Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have declared MSG to be safe for general consumption.

Although MSG has been shown to be a safe food additive, some people have sensitivity to products containing MSG. Because these people experience headaches or difficulty in breathing (most often, they have severe and poorly regulated asthma) after eating foods that contain MSG, the FDA therefore insists on the labeling of food products that have MSG added.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.