Monosodium glutamate MSG

In today’s Guardian it says about the Co-op banning MSG plus 12 colourings from its own brands, following concerns on the effects of additives on children.

“Good on ’em” I say.

Monosodium glutamate is classed as a flavour enhancer and as such is used in absolutely loads of processed food. It’s job is to stimulate our taste buds to enhance the good flavours and to curb the “unpleasant” ones, so it is quite clever eh? How does it know which is which?

But MSG can be nasty , some people react at even less than one gram. [1]

More research being done on MSG at Harvard Medical School found that nearly 30% of 1,529 people reacted to MSG. The most common reactions were headaches migraines, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps, and that’s not all, many people had emotional reactions ranging from depression to insomnia. [2]. That sounds heavy to me, and all because we like our flavours more flavoury.

However, the food standards people say that they acknowlegde MSG can cause a reaction in a small percentage of people, but that there is little scientific evidence of it causing serious adverse reactions. With this as the food industry foundation those of us who wont stock products with MSG are something of a minority. Its good to be joined by the co-op, maybe the food-service industry will follow suit? Until then I’ll be making my own curries I think.

[1] Schwartz, George R, 1988, In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Health Press, pp 9-10.)

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