Is MSG Safe?

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), a popular flavouring substance commonly used in home-cooked and restaurant foods — as well as in most processed, packaged and frozen foods — is a long-trusted food seasoning in Malaysia.

The food industry tells us it’s “natural” and “safe”. But eater, beware: A growing mountain of evidence indicates that MSG may be more toxic than we know.

Sumber : Persatuan Pengguna Penang

Why Is MSG Used in Foods?

The main use of MSG around the world is for a flavor enhancer. A flavor enhancer is a substance that is added to a food to supplement or enhance its original taste or flavor. Another term commonly used for substances such as MSG is that of flavor potentiator.
Foods Containing MSG and Hidden Sources of MSG

MSG is used around the globe in soups and broths, sauces, gravies, and flavoring and spice blends. MSG is also present in a variety of processed foods such as canned and frozen meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, and ready-to-eat food plates, dressings, ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce, sausages, snacks, some processed cheeses, soup powders for instant noodles, etc.

MSG usage is sometimes “hidden” in food labels under different names. If you see “natural flavorings”, “hydrolyzed protein” and “spices” in a food label you are probably seeing a hidden way to “report” MSG in a food label, so be aware of the presence of MSG on foods that you thought were MSG free.

Can MSG and its Side Effects be Bad for You?

In the United States, MSG is included in the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list of food ingredients by the US Food and Drug Administration along with salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar. The Scientific Committee of the European Union also recognizes MSG as safe and in Japan MSG is a food additive allowed to be used with no limitation. However, in 1968 some people reported having “symptoms of burning, numbness, and a tight sensation in the upper part of the body“ after having had a meal at a Chinese restaurant (Kwok, 1968). This was called the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS). Immediately CRS was suggested to be associated with MSG consumption but no conclusive data was found to prove that there were immediate side effects.

According to Russell Blaylock, author of a book titled “Excitotoxins the Taste that Kills”, MSG is an excitotoxin, which basically means, a chemical substance that excite your neurons (brain cells) and that may cause its death. Blaylock proposes that excitotoxins, like MSG, may aggravate many neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. MSG (and exitotoxins) side effects may include seizures, brain cell and damage, allergies, rashes, asthma attacks, headaches, and brain tumors.

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