What is MSG?
MSG is the commonly used acronym for monosodium glutamate. MSG
is a food ingredient used by home cooks and the food industry
to make some foods taste better. In very simple scientific terms,
MSG is a combination of the amino acid glutamate, sodium and
acids are the "building blocks" of protein, and glutamate
is one of the most abundant amino acids. It occurs naturally
in lots of different foods. For example, protein-containing
foods such as meat, fish, milk
and vegetables contain glutamate, and our bodies also produce
it. Even human breast milk contains glutamate naturally.
Why is MSG used?
MSG is a flavor enhancer that helps bring out the best natural
flavors in foods. It works well with a wide variety of foods
including meats, poultry, seafood, and many vegetables. Home
cooks use MSG in soups, stews, sauces and casseroles, while
the food industry frequently uses it in snack foods, frozen
entrees and a wide variety of convenience foods.
How does MSG work?
When MSG is added to foods, the glutamate component enhances
several specific flavor characteristics, including impact, body
or fullness, mildness and complexity. It also harmonizes the
wide range of flavors already present in foods, creating a well-rounded
same thing occurs when you cook with foods that are naturally
high in glutamate, such as mushrooms, tomatoes and Parmesan
cheese. No wonder these foods have long been prized for their
distinctive flavoring abilities!
Is MSG a new food ingredient?
No, MSG has nearly 100 years of safe use. A Japanese professor
and researcher, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda first discovered the flavor-enhancing
properties of glutamate in 1908. He then went on to develop
monosodium glutamate so that consumers would have an easy way
to use glutamate in cooking.
How is MSG made?
MSG is made using a fermentation process. Many common foods
such as yogurt, beer, vinegar and soy sauce are produced by
fermentation. American-made MSG uses Iowa corn as its starting
material, but in other countries molasses, sugar beets or tapioca
may be used.
Is there a difference between the glutamate in MSG and the glutamate
No. The glutamate found in MSG is the same as the glutamate
that naturally occurs in many foods, according to authorities
such as the American Medical Association (AMA), the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) and most recently, the 1995 Federation
of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) report.
In addition, our bodies metabolize, or break down, the two sources
of glutamate in exactly the same way. In other words, to the
human body, glutamate is glutamate no matter what the source.
What is umami?
Umami (pronounced "oo-mommy") is the Japanese word
for the unique taste imparted by glutamate. While English (and
other Western languages) lacks a specific word for the glutamate
taste, it's often described as savory, meaty or broth-like.
have recently validated what our taste buds have known all alongthat
the glutamate taste is separate and distinct from the other
four tastes (sweet, sour, salty and bitter.) After years of
searching, researchers in Florida recently discovered the glutamate