Sunday, April 18, 2010
Return of the MSG!
I have since been rather obsessed with MSG. Perhaps it is merely my love for the Notorious MSG, but I champion MSG as a flavor enhancer. I have actually scourged the entire Trader Joe's store looking for MSG, and have found that they hawk not a single item of merchandise that sports MSG in its ingredients list. Yet they hawk a great number of items that sport sea salt on their ingredients lists, which is far less healthy and flavorful than MSG!
The fact of the matter is, however, that a 1995 study showed that "MSG was safe for most people when 'eaten at customary levels'. However, it also said that, based on anecdotal reports, some people may have an MSG intolerance which causes 'MSG symptom complex' and/or a worsening of asthmatic symptoms." (^ http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/msg.html) Furthermore, it has been found SINCE that study, that this 'MSG intolerance' is also completely fictional. According to later independent studies, "Subsequent research found that while large doses of MSG given without food may elicit more symptoms than a placebo in individuals who believe that they react adversely to MSG, the frequency of the responses was low and the responses reported were inconsistent, not reproducible, and were not observed when MSG was given with food." (^ a b Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. (April 2000). "Review of alleged reaction to monosodium glutamate and outcome of a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled study". J. Nutr. 130 (4S Suppl): 1058S–62S. PMID 10736382. http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=10736382.) Finally, the clincher: "While many people believe that MSG is the cause of these symptoms, a statistical association has not been demonstrated under controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to it." (^ a b Geha RS, Beiser A, Ren C, et al. (April 2000). "Review of alleged reaction to monosodium glutamate and outcome of a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled study". J. Nutr. 130 (4S Suppl): 1058S–62S. PMID 10736382. http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=10736382., ^ a b Tarasoff L., Kelly M.F. (1993). "Monosodium L-glutamate: a double-blind study and review". Food Chem. Toxicol. 31 (12): 1019–1035. doi:10.1016/0278-6915(93)90012-N. PMID 8282275., ^ Freeman M. (October 2006). "Reconsidering the effects of monosodium glutamate: a literature review". J Am Acad Nurse Pract 18 (10): 482–6. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2006.00160.x. PMID 16999713., ^ Walker R (October 1999). "The significance of excursions above the ADI. Case study: monosodium glutamate". Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 30 (2 Pt 2): S119–S121. doi:10.1006/rtph.1999.1337. PMID 10597625.) (That's 4, count them FOUR citations!)
So why are Americans so afraid of MSG? Well my opinion is that it's just another example of how the media uses our ignorance to propagate their own goals. So now my own bottle of AC'CENT is demonized, though I use it in most of my cooking. Chinese restaurants are demonized for using MSG, though it makes all their food taste better. Doritos and Fritos and even Taco Works are demonized for making their chips more delicious with MSG. Soups are demonized if they used MSG instead of the less healthful sea salt (AC'CENT contains 60% less sodium than salt, according to the packaging), but have you ever tasted a chicken noodle soup or a cream of mushroom soup that contains no MSG? It's flipping disgusting!
So go ahead everybody. Even if you think you're allergic. Go eat some MSG! And listen to the Notorious MSG! (but if you're going to do the latter, watch out for rectal prolapse...)