Is MSG okay to consume?


Fact Box

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is “the sodium salt of the common amino acid glutamic acid.” MSG was patented in 1908 by Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda after he extracted glutamate from a seaweed broth and found it to be the reason for the savory taste in the soup. 
  • The taste of MSG is considered to be “umami,” which was first discovered in Japan; it is the fifth basic taste, along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.
  • MSG contains “significantly” less sodium than table salt, about two-thirds less, to be exact. 
  • A poll from the International Food Information Council found that 40% of consumers choose to avoid MSG based on its bad reputation from 1968. A scientist published a short paper explaining “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” which is described as weakness, numbness, palpitations, and headaches from eating certain Chinese cuisine that may be linked to MSG. 
  • A report from Ingredient Watch: Debunking MSG revealed that 75% of the global social media conversation regarding MSG has been “positive” from 2018 to 2023.

James (No)

Food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) are frequently used in the food business to enhance the flavor of processed foods. Nevertheless, consuming MSG is connected with several risks. First of all, MSG has been connected to respiratory problems like asthma. According to research, ingesting MSG can cause airway inflammation by overstimulating the nervous system by 'exciting our nerves and causing an inflammatory response,' making breathing harder for those with pre-existing respiratory disorders. Second, MSG has a reputation for causing weight gain and obesity. MSG has been demonstrated to increase hunger, which can result in overeating and weight gain. MSG has also been found to obstruct the body's natural hunger cues, which promotes even more overeating of food. In connection with this, MSG consumption has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The high levels of sodium found in MSG can contribute to hypertension, which, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition to the above mentioned risk factors, some people may have headaches and migraines due to MSG consumption. This is thought to be caused by MSG's capacity to overstimulate certain brain neurons. Moreover, research has also connected MSG to problems with reproduction. MSG use during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of developmental impairments in animal offspring, which is a good indicator of what it does biologically inside humans. Last but not least, MSG may be used to cover up subpar meals. Since MSG intensifies flavor, it may be used to disguise the poor quality of food, giving the consumer a fictitious sensation of satisfaction and perhaps influencing their dietary decisions.

Elliot (Yes)

The FDA has ruled that MSG is safe for human consumption. If this ingredient was somehow toxic or harmful to produce a real health scare, the FDA would flag it. The FDA understands MSG has a long history of being used in food with no seriously notable side effects, giving it the 'generally recognized as safe' (GRAS) label. 

Numerous studies worldwide have also confirmed that MSG poses no severe health hazards or evidence of adverse effects. While some might report headaches or sweating, no study has established a clear link between these minor symptoms and MSG. Most people eat MSG without experiencing any adverse effects whatsoever. There is also no link between MSG and chronic diseases. People say that there 'may be' links to obesity, diabetes, or cancer, but they fail to back up their claims with evidence. This is because no studies have established this link, so no such evidence exists. 

Many assume that MSG is only a synthetic chemical added to foods, but it's actually naturally occurring. Glutamine is added to food via monosodium glutamate (MSG), another form of glutamine, and can be found in animal and vegetable proteins. You can find especially large quantities of glutamine in foods like grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheeses, and fruit juices. It is also present in meat, fish, and beans. No matter one's diet, people consume glutamine. 

Furthermore, the average person only consumes 0.55 grams of MSG daily, which is low enough for healthy people to digest. This includes naturally-occurring glutamine that people already consume via 'normal' foods. Anyone could overeat anything, including MSG, but as of now, the flavoring enhances the dining experience and should be consumed without fear of safety.

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