MSG (Monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer. It comes from a common amino acid, glutamic acid, and must be declared as monosodium glutamate on meat and poultry labels. It is used commonly in seasoning salts, soups, spices, condiments, meats, some baked goods, and candies. Other fermented and Asian food preparations contain MSG, as do most food dishes served in Chinese restaurants.
MSG is found naturally in foods such as soybeans, beets, and seaweeds. Glutamic acid seems to affect brain chemistry, and certain tests in rats suggest that high amounts of MSG can cause brain damage. They stopped the use of MSG in baby food in 1969. More recently “Chinese restaurant syndrome” has become associated with the use of MSG. Symptoms occurring after eating foods high in MSG include burning sensation in the back of the neck, forearms and chest, numbness in the back of the neck, radiating to the arms and back, tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms, facial pressure or tightness, chest pain, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, bronchospasm (difficulty breathing) in MSG-intolerant people with asthma, drowsiness, weakness.
Meal Genius does not endorse products containing MSG.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA BackgrounderAugust 31, 1995, FDA and Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html. Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/additive.htm