An apology for MSG?

This article questions whether or not MSG has gotten a bum wrap.

If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?

I got the impression that both sides of the argument are lame. Interestingly, the author will not use MSG in his own kitchen.

Glutamate is found in all of the ‘alternate names’ list, and corresponds with some of Dr. Neil Barnards’s comments in one of his books about food addictions.

For those who don’t want to read the article here is a list of alternate names that MSG may be listed under( from the article):

  • monopotassium glutamate
  • glutavene
  • glutacyl
  • glutamic acid
  • autolyzed yeast extract
  • calcium caseinate
  • sodium caseinate
  • E621 (E620-625 are all glutamates)
  • Ajinomoto, Ac’cent
  • Gourmet Powder

Also, lookout for any kind of hydrolyzed protein or yeast extract.

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13 thoughts on “An apology for MSG?”

  1. Aw poop… I didn’t know about the autolyzed yeast extract….

    No more near east couscous for me… 🙁

    Who the fuck would guess that was MSG?!?! The US really needs to adopt E numbers like the EU.



  2. Why worry?

    While both sides are lame, the article does make it seem like MSG may, possibly, be okay to have.

    I have had products with MSG under those alternative names. I did not become an uncontrollable eater, get headaches, or climb nude out of a pool for PETA.

  3. That reporter needs to go back and take a basic chemistry class. Monopotassium glutamate is not, cannot possibly be, an “alternate name” for monosodium glutamate. Potassium and sodium are different things. They probably mean food additives that all contain glutamate, the part that’s supposed by many to be bad.

  4. That is a good point that I didn’t even notice. My thinking was like the author’s in thinking of “alternative names” as “other glutamate products”, but that the former does not fit with the letter of the definition.

    After I read the article I bought some vegan soup stock powder with hydrolyzed yeast….on purpose. It was yummy, but my sodium intake was getting out of control so I stopped using it.

  5. The way it’s phrased, I think it unfairly implies that food manufacturers are being deceptive, by putting MSG in their products and calling it something else.

    We dairy-shunners ought to know that glutamate and caseinate are different things, too. Right?

  6. I don’t agree, because I think food manufactures are intentionally using alternate glutamate compounds because they know consumers want to avoid the operative part of MSG and they know that consumers are not educated enough to look for these alternative compounds.

  7. Oh, I’m sure many manufacturers are doing that very thing. But it seems to me that there is an ethical difference between (1) avoiding an ingredient that’s gotten a bad rap by using a similar alternative ingredient instead, and (2) continuing to use the ingredient with the bad rap and calling it something else so that consumers think you’re not using it.

    I think there’s an analogous situation with trans fats. You can continue to use trans fats, but tweak your recipe and your serving size so that there’s less than 0.5 grams per serving so you can write “0g trans fat” on the package. Or you can get rid of the trans fat altogether, and either use some other fat that may someday prove to be just as bad or go “fat free” and jack up the sugar content. Neither option is great. But the former is worse than the latter, in my opinion.

  8. That’s a matter of opinion, I guess. My opinion is that the difference is large enough that manufacturers should not be falsely accused of doing one when what they’re doing is the other.

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