Next to ginger and soy sauce, MSG is probably the most common “spice” associated with Chinese restaurants, especially popular Chinese takeout food. While some people may be allergic and others experience distinct negative physical reactions (like Dad), there are some who don’t seem to be affected by MSG (or don’t know they are). Companies that use it claim that there is “no scientific data that proves a direct negative health effect.” (I know because I gave feedback to Frito-Lay and got a lengthy, well-researched letter–and several snack coupons).
In fact, most folks are surprised how many everyday, popular American foods and natural products, contain MSG or natural glutamate in one form or another (see below).
Some folks like Dan Pashman thinks MSG is A-OK.
True, the rap on MSG (and to some extent, Chinese takeout) suffers from a PR image issue, in spite of a trove of unscientifically proven claims. So much so that it’s actually made a curious foodie comeback under a different identity and marketing name (spoiler alert!): U-M-A-M-I. So many celebrity chefs and foodies swoon over the mystique of umami and the “fifth taste” like a new-age trend. They won’t even say what it is exactly except repeating “it’s umami!” What is umami anyway? Definition: a category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate. MSG with a makeover!
My take on using MSG for cooking (at home, in classes and our products) is: it’s not worth the risk and not necessary! Our sauce line is natural, MSG-free, and simply delicious with fresh ingredients and family recipes. I don’t need an out-of-body-fifth-dimension-taste-buds-experience, just good food!
Here’s food for thought, literally, a good informative article on MSG. Note last entry on the list!
So you think you don’t eat MSG? Think again…
Some of the names MSG goes under:
autolyzed yeast extract
E621 (E620-625 are all glutamates)
The following may also contain MSG natural flavors or seasonings:
natural beef or chicken flavoring
hydrolyzed milk or plant protein
Free glutamate content of foods (mg per 100g)
roquefort cheese 1280
parmesan cheese 1200
soy sauce 1090
fresh tomato juice 260
grape juice 258
human milk 22 (!!)