Is MSG safe?
Yes. MSG has been used for nearly 100 years and is one of the
most thoroughly tested food ingredients. Food and health authorities
worldwide, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
have confirmed that the use of monosodium glutamate is safe for
the general population.
What is the FDA's view of MSG?
Since 1958, the FDA has classified monosodium glutamate as GRAS
("Generally Recognized As Safe"), placing it in the
same category as salt, pepper, vinegar and baking powder. This
means that MSG is safe for its intended use.
the early 1990s, as part of the periodic safety review that all
GRAS ingredients undergo, the FDA asked the Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to review the accumulated
science on MSG safety. FASEB's report, released in 1995, reaffirmed
the safety of monosodium glutamate for the general population.
Who has reviewed MSG safety research?
In addition to the FDA, a number of international scientific,
medical and regulatory organizations have reviewed the scientific
research on MSG safety and have found MSG to be safe. Some of
these organizations include:
American Medical Association (AMA)
United Nations' FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives
Scientific Committee for Food of the European Communities
How can I tell if MSG is added to foods?
Reading the food's label will tell you if MSG has been added.
The U.S. FDA regulations require the words "monosodium glutamate"
to be present on the ingredient statement of the label if MSG
has been added to the food.
Can MSG be listed under any other names on food labels?
No. According to FDA regulations, when MSG is added to a food
the ingredient statement must include the words "monosodium
glutamate." However, the amino acid glutamate is contributed
to foods by many ingredients, such as soy sauce and hydrolyzed
vegetable protein. In addition, there are many natural sources
of the glutamate.
Could MSG make me sick if I eat too much of it?
No. First, there's no indication that consuming even large amounts
of MSG would cause one to feel sick. Secondly, using too much
MSG in a food actually can make the food taste worsenot
better. Therefore, it's unlikely you'd ever want to eat food that
contains excess MSG.
it is a self-limiting
substance, food processors use the least amount of MSG necessary
for maximum flavor impact. In most cases, this means that processed
foods contain only 0.1 to 0.8 percent of the food's weight as
served. In the kitchen, this translates to one-half teaspoon of
MSG per pound of meat or 4-6 servings of vegetables, casserole
7. Are some people
allergic to MSG?
No. MSG is not an allergen. In 1991, the American College of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology concluded that MSG is not a food allergen,
and severe reactions are not associated with consumption of the
ingredient. It is possible that some people may be sensitive to
MSG, just as people are to many other foods.
you think you have a food allergy, it's important to get a professional
diagnosis from a board-certified allergist (preferably one with
a specialty in food allergies). Relying on self-diagnosis could
lead to unnecessary food restrictions and, more importantly, cause
you to ignore or miss another important health problem.
Can MSG cause asthma attacks?
No. Research results have consistently failed to implicate MSG
in causing or exacerbating asthma attacks. Most recently, in 1999,
researchers at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation found
that none of their patients, including those who believed they
were sensitive to MSG, experienced asthmatic attacks or any symptoms
of asthma in response to either MSG or a placebo. These findings
back up the results from an earlier Scripps study, as well those
from Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health,
the Monash Medical School in Australia and Beth Israel Hospital.
Is MSG safe for pregnant women?
Yes. If you're pregnant, you can feel confident about consuming
foods containing monosodium glutamate. Because pregnancy is such
an important time for you and your unborn child, extensive scientific
research has been conducted to make sure that MSG is safe for
both of you. No studies have ever found MSG to cause problems
with reproduction, birth or the fetus itself.
addition, MSG is safe for lactating mothers and breast-feeding
infants, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that MSG
has no effect on lactation and poses no risk to infants. As a
matter of fact, Mother Nature must agree that glutamate is important
for breastfeeding infants, as human breast milk contains about
10 times more glutamate than cow's milk!
Is MSG safe for children?
Yes. Scientific evidence shows that MSG is safe for people of
any age, including children. In June 1991, the European Communities
Scientific Committee for Food stated, "Infants, including
prematures, have been shown to metabolize glutamate as efficiently
as adults and therefore do not display any special susceptibility
to elevated oral intakes of glutamate." If your child's favorite
foods contain MSG, you can feel assured that the ingredient is
as safe for kids as it is for adults.
Does MSG cause headaches?
No. Reports that MSG is a vasoactive substance, meaning it constricts
or dilates blood vessels, thereby producing headaches, have never
been confirmed in a scientifically controlled study.
are many alleged "triggers" for headaches, including
diet and stress, and a wide array of foods have been implicated
as headache triggers. However, a 1990 critical review of the literature
on food-triggered headaches concluded that the relationship is
controversial. The review also stated that there is no evidence
to support an association between MSG and migraine headaches.