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  • Chloe Lee

What is MSG?

Chloe Lee, HK BioTek Nutritionist Intern

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt commonly found in package food. It occurs naturally in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts, protein isolate, and especially tomatoes and cheeses. However, MSG can be a flavor enhancer and additives. In 1908, Kikunae Ikeda, who is a Japanese professor, extracted and crystalized glutamate from a glutamate-rich seaweed broth and determined that glutamate was providing the savory taste to the soup. He then created a patent to produce MSG and started the commercial production in the following year.

Today, instead of extraction and crystallization, MSG is produced by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses. According to US Food and Drug Administration, glutamate or glutamic acid do not contain gluten; a person with Celiac disease will not react to the MSG.

The report of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) concluded that MSG is safe in the 1995. Some transient and generally mild symptoms, such as headache, numbness, flushing, tingling, palpitations, and drowsiness may occur in some sensitive individuals who merely consume 3 grams or more of MSG without food. However, a typical serving of a food with added MSG contains less than 0.5 grams of MSG.

Since studies have not found any fixed or regular condition to MSG, most scientists agree that people who are sensitivity or allergic to MSG are extremely rare. Nonetheless, people who think they have problems with it should eat fresh food and avoid eating pre-packed food contains MSG; labelled as "hydrolyzed soy protein" and "autolyzed yeast".

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