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Monosodium Glutamate/MSG: The Topic


Fat Guy
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I'd be happy to recommend a few reviews if you're really interested, but it might be too technical for most foodies.

Please please please.

It's definitely possible to be allergic (not a true allergy, but a genetic inability to metabolize) to certain amino acids. You

Please please please what???

I can't figure out why you're quoting me. I thought I was talking about the molecular biology of taste and how there is a lot of free glutamate in things we eat besides Chinese food. I'm no physician, and would never claim that you couldn't be allergic to anything. My offer for reviews was for the ones done by research scientists on G-protein coupled taste receptors found on tongues and nothing more.

regards,

trillium

I think mamster was saying he'd really like to read the reviews (as a biologist he almost qualifies as a scientist). I'd be interested too.

Gotcha. It must be a personality failing that I read sarcasm where none is intended! I'm not sure how this email thing works here, I'm still better at Usenet than this, but I think you can email me and let me know what you'd like (references or the article) and if a pdf format would work.

regards,

trillium

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I'm sorry, I didn't intend to be sarcastic or attribute anything to you, trillium, although I see now that it could read that way. I just meant I was interested in the technical articles, as GJ said. Anytime you see a ludicrous leap of scientific logic in one of my posts, that's all me.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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  • 6 months later...

Admin: Threads merged.

To bring this back up.

I'm confused.

MSG = umami. Is that correct? :huh:

Do mushrooms have MSG in them? They taste like they do.

I didn't know that MSG could be naturally-occuring until I read this thread.

The only time I ever had a problem with the stuff was when adding it (very copiously) to a stir-fry at home, years ago, before I knew dick about cooking. My fingers swelled up and I had to remove all jewelry.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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To bring this back up.

I'm confused.

MSG = umami.  Is that correct? :huh:

Do mushrooms have MSG in them?  They taste like they do.

I didn't know that MSG could be naturally-occuring until I read this thread.

The only time I ever had a problem with the stuff was when adding it (very copiously) to a stir-fry at home, years ago, before I knew dick about cooking.  My fingers swelled up and I had to remove all jewelry.

Umami is the 5th taste, following sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. MSG can trigger an umami "taste" but it's not the only thing that can. The actual receptors in your taste buds for all of these tastes are being worked out by scientists as we speak. MSG is a salt of sodium and glutamate. You may have a sensitivity to glutamate, which is rare but not unheard of, or you may have a sensitivity to sodium, which was probably also present in vast quantities if you added too much MSG along with soya sauce to your stir-fry.

Many foods are totally filled with free glutamate, not just 'shrooms. Almost any food that has protein in it has glutamate and the more you age something, the more free glutamate you'll get (think steak, cheese, soya sauce etc).

regards,

trillium

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  • 1 year later...

Admin: Threads merged.

Exlcuding health risks to those allergic to MSG, does it pose a health risk? If yes, then does this carry over to glutimates in other food products such as soy sauce and fish sauce?

I have been trying to read more and more about it on the Internet, but alot of it talks about health risks for those who are allergic.

I know glutimates are found in cheese, mushrooms, fish, and human milk, so they can't be that bad. However, is MSG chemically different? Are glutimates in high does, such as MSG, harmful?

-- Jason

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I have always wondered about this MSG issue. From a chemical standpoint, MSG is just the sodium salt of a common amino acid, glutamine, found in a LOT of foods. Glutamine will convert, in the body or the cooking pot, to monosodium glutamate as a matter of course. When acids contact the basic ion, a salt is formed. In this case, sodium and glutamine make MSG. I don't get it.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I heard in school that fresh tomatoes contain more MSG than you could ever find in any Asian meal. So, the people who complain about what was once called "Chinese Food Syndrome" are basically just psyching themselves out.

Since news regarding the health risks of fresh tomatoes seems nil, I choose to believe that there aren't problems with MSG. Unless you go overboard. There are always risks in going overboard on anything, though. *shrug*

"My tongue is smiling." - Abigail Trillin

Ruth Shulman

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Here are two arguements I found, but I am havnig a hard time trying to verify who is right.

"In fact, every major human organ is now known to contain glutamate receptors. Overstimulation of these receptors—in the brain or elsewhere—can lead to numerous health problems, many of which may mimic other disorders (such as fibromyalgia or heart arrhythmia), but can go undiagnosed for decades, all the while creating a life of misery and disability for the unfortunate sufferer.

"Many foods, such as soybeans and tomatoes, contain naturally high levels of free glutamate, which may cause MSG reactions in particularly sensitive individuals. The processed form—monosodium glutamate—is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, and it is the highly refined substance (which actually looks a lot like table salt) that is added in huge quantities to most processed foods at manufacturing facilities."

- From www.nomsg.com

"MSG is usually produced through fermentation, a process similar to that used in making beer, vinegar and yogurt. The process usually begins with the fermentation of corn, sugar beets or sugar cane. The finished product is a pure, white crystal which dissolves easily and blends well in many foods.

"Medical specialists have known for decades that your body does not distinguish between the glutamate found naturally in foods and that in MSG. In fact, even todayÌs state-of-the-art technology canÌt separate them. For example, if you analyzed a plate of spaghetti, you could find out the total amount of glutamate in the dish. However, since glutamate is glutamate, there is no way to determine whether the glutamate came from tomatoes, Parmesan cheese or MSG."

- From www.msgfacts.com

-- Jason

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I can tell instantly what has MSG added in quantity and what doesn't.

That being said the stuff doesn't bother me as much as it used to-one of the benefits of ageing.

Living as I do in a community with an unbelievable number of Chinese restaurants I know that "So, the people who complain about what was once called "Chinese Food Syndrome" are basically just psyching themselves out." is just uninformed blather.

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Yes, Steingarten did. Which brings me back to the, as it's been called "uninformed blather" :laugh: of my previous post. If it's an actual syndrome, why don't the Chinese get headaches from Chinese food? Or why doesn't anyone get headaches from fresh tomatoes?

:laugh::hmmm::laugh:

"My tongue is smiling." - Abigail Trillin

Ruth Shulman

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This article in the NYTimes is about pollution in China in general, but the part about the Lianhua Gourmet Powder company which manufactures msg raises still more questions about msg and gives new dimensions to any consideration about it. I've avoided msg before, I certainly won't touch it now!

This link to the page that begins the discussion of Lianhua: here

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Sounds like a very nasty company, but I don't think we should assume that all MSG is manufactured by them. What about Aji-No-Moto from Japan, for example? I have no idea what their environmental or workplace safety records are, as indeed I don't know this information about most companies that produce foodstuffs.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Sounds like a very nasty company, but I don't think we should assume that all MSG is manufactured by them. What about Aji-No-Moto from Japan, for example? I have no idea what their environmental or workplace safety records are, as indeed I don't know this information about most companies that produce foodstuffs.

I wasn't thinking about this solely in terms of social responsibility and not supporting businesses that act this way. I'm frankly selfish enough to wonder that if the by-product leftovers of the production are that lethal, how safe can the product itself be.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Sounds like a very nasty company, but I don't think we should assume that all MSG is manufactured by them. What about Aji-No-Moto from Japan, for example? I have no idea what their environmental or workplace safety records are, as indeed I don't know this information about most companies that produce foodstuffs.

I have noticed that only some things that have MSG in them cause me problems. Doritos nacho chips are fine but Pringle’s pizza flavor chips are not. Maybe it is the concentration or mixture with other agents that is the problem and not just MSG.

Living hard will take its toll...
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One of my books ("Banquet: Ten Courses to Harmony" by Annette Shun Wah & Greg Aitkin") mentions an Australian study by Leonid Tarasoff and Michael Kelly with findings that not only indicate MSG is harmless but the so-called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" illnesses people get are related to histamines created by the body in reaction to certain fermented ingredients common to Chinese and Asian cooking.

Sadly, a Google on those two names only yields a single document in German. If anyone here is fluent in German, maybe they could translate?

German science page citing Australian MSG study

The International Food Information Council also states MSG is not an allergen:

Everything You Need to Know About MSG

Pat

Edited by Sleepy_Dragon (log)

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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Sadly, a Google on those two names only yields a single document in German. If anyone here is fluent in German, maybe they could translate?

German science page citing Australian MSG study

I'm not fluent but, bloody hell! that's NINETEEN pages of text to translate! I only got through the executive summary.... :unsure:

I've also read the Steingarten article on MSG reactions. As far as I'm concerned, it's akin to telling a migraineur to "take two aspirin and call me in the morning". Without experiencing the effects of MSG, any dismissal of the same is based purely on conjecture. "If I don't suffer effects from it, then surely no one else does!"

I'd be interested in knowing how many people who are affected by MSG also get migraines. I know when I am affected by foodstuffs, it's in the form of a vascular response: flushing, visual disturbances, and vascular headaches.

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i like msg and do not avoid it. it makes food taste and feel good. could a little bit hurt me?

from the anti-msg faction, msg can cause:

reactions like Depression, Mood swings, Rage reactions, Dizziness, Light-headedness, Loss of balance, Disorientation, Mental confusion, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Hyperactivity, Behavioral problems in children, Attention deficit disorders, Lethargy, Sleepiness, Insomnia, Numbness or paralysis, Seizures, Sciatica, Slurred speech, Chills and shakes, Shuddering, Blurred vision, Difficulty focusing, and Pressure around the eyes, Asthma, Shortness of breath, Chest pain, Tightness in the chest, Runny nose, Sneezing, Swelling of the prostate, Swelling of the vagina, Vaginal spotting, Frequent urination, Nocturia, Hives (may be both internal and external), Rash, Mouth lesions, Temporary tightness or partial paralysis, (numbness or tingling) of the skin, Flushing, Extreme dryness of the mouth, Face swelling, Tongue swelling, Arrhythmia, Atrial fibrillation, Tachycardia, Palpitations, Slow heartbeat, Angina, Extreme rise or drop in blood pressure, Swelling, Diarrhea, Nausea/vomiting, Stomach cramps, Irritable bowel, Swelling of hemorrhoids and/or anus area, Rectal bleeding, Bloating, Flu-like achiness, Joint pain, and Stiffness

sure sounds scary. all that swelling. and rage. oh! and shuddering!

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...

I've also read the Steingarten article on MSG reactions. As far as I'm concerned, it's akin to telling a migraineur to "take two aspirin and call me in the morning". Without experiencing the effects of MSG, any dismissal of the same is based purely on conjecture. "If I don't suffer effects from it, then surely no one else does!"

I'd be interested in knowing how many people who are affected by MSG also get migraines. I know when I am affected by foodstuffs, it's in the form of a vascular response: flushing, visual disturbances, and vascular headaches.

I wouldn't deny people's symptoms either, but I think there's reasonable doubt as to whether or not we've got the right culprit. Especially considering its natural occurrence in all foods umami like soybeans, mushrooms, etc.

For the record, I'm all for cooking without it, if only as a way to measure skill and an eye for good ingredients.

Pat

Edited by Sleepy_Dragon (log)

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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