MSG, isn’t that just from dodgy Chinese food?

8 Jun

Well sadly the answer is no.  If you eat anything from flavoured chips, flavoured noodles and snacks with flavour packets or sachets, savoury biscuits and crackers, packet or canned soups, stock cubes, liquid stock, gravy mixes, crumbing mixes, seasoned salt, prepared meals, lite or ‘healthy’ products or meals, frozen foods, pies, sausage rolls, fresh sausages, marinated meats, seasoned chicken, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, deli meats such as polony, ham and chicken, chicken nuggets, flavoured tuna, vegemite, some hard cheeses, tomato paste and sauce, then you would be consuming MSG!

You will also find MSG in take away foods such as McDonalds. There is also no requirement in restaurants and cafés to declare the presence of these additives.

What is MSG?
MSG is a food additive. Its full name is monosodium glutamate and it comes from the amino acid glutamic acid.

Why is it used?
Glutamate helps enhance the flavour of food, and therefore glutamate is often deliberately added to foods — either as MSG, hydrolysed protein or a variety of food ingredients rich in glutamates. It does not allow a cook to substitute low-quality for high-quality ingredients in a recipe, and does not tenderise meat. MSG simply enhances the savoury flavours already present in food.

MSG is one of the most widely used additives in the world but most consumers can’t recognise glutamate-containing foods and don’t know when they or their children are affected.

Adverse effects have been associated with the free glutamates in MSG since it was introduced into Western food in 1948. At first identified as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, symptoms included burning, numbness, facial pressure, chest pain and headaches. Since then many other reactions have been reported including migraines, diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, asthma, insomnia, depression, heart palpitations, ventricular fibrillation, AF (atrial fibrillation), children’s behaviour and attention problems, and many more.

In the mid nineties, three more flavour enhancers called ribonucleotides (627, 631, and 635 which is a combination of 627 and 631) started appearing on supermarket shelves after scientists realised that these chemicals could boost the flavour enhancing effect of MSG up to 15 times.

Other Names for MSG include:
620 Glutamic acid
621 Monosodium glutamate
622 Monopotassium glutamate
623 Calcium glutamate
624 Monoammonium glutamate
625 Magnesium glutamate
627 Disodium guanylate
631 Disodium inosinate 
635 Disodium ribonucleotides
Accent Natural Flavourings
Hydrolysed Plant Protein
Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein
Natural Beef Flavourings
Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
Autolyzed Yeast Natural Pork Flavourings
Kombo Extract
Natural Chicken Flavouring
Barley Malt
Natural Seasonings
Gourmet Powder
Textured Protein
Calcium Caseinate
Malt Extract
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Spices (sometimes)

So next time you are at the supermarket, make sure you read the labels on the foods you are buying!


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