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    How to Avoid MSG
    BY: Stephen Richardson
    Dated: 2009-02-22 14:37:29

    Key Words:
    MSG,GLUTAMATE ACID,Monosodium Glutamate

    This article is a short description of MSG and what its health concerns are. The article also addressed how to avoid MSG when dining out.

    Full Article:


    Monosodium glutamate is a salt that is made from glutamate acid.


    Glutamate acid or glutamate, is a very common amino aids found naturally in meat, fish, milk, and some plants. Its in almost every food and is essential to a healthy metabolism.

    Glutamates can be made into Monosodium Glutamate, MSG, a white, crystalline powder. This somewhat tasteless powder does enhance the flavour of foods and has been used in its raw form for centuries in Asia.  In the early 1900ís that scientists figured out what the flavour enhancing ingredient of glutamate was is now produced as MSG from sugar cane or sugar beets, corn sugar or wheat starch. MSG contains only one-third the amount of sodium as regular table salt.

    Consumption of MSG

    Canadians eat about 4 grams of this stuff per week. Areas such as Taiwan people consume up to 21 grams per week!

    MSG and Metabolism

    The human body metabolizes glutamate added to foods in the same manner it metabolizes glutamate found naturally in many foods.

    Is MSG a Safe Food Additive?

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration : Deemed Safe
    United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization: Deemed Safe

    World Health Organization: Deemed Safe

    The American Medical Associations Council on Scientific Affairs: Deemed Safe

    National Academy of Sciences: Deemed Safe

    Health Canada : Deemed Safe.

    Statement  "scientists in the health protection branch and in the international community generally agree that no hazard to public health results from the moderate use of MSG under current practices and levels of use.

    However, some individuals who consume MSG may have some unpleasant reactions. These may include a burning sensation, facial pressure and chest pains appearing about 20 minutes after consumption of food containing MSG and disappearing about two hours later.

    This temporary condition is not harmful. People sensitive enough to be affected may choose to avoid the use of this substance."

    What about the claims of it being unsafe?

    Well, this is my opinion on the subject. Even if a product is deemed safe right now does not mean it is safe. Also, safe is a relative term when your talking about health. What is safe for some may not be safe for others and while small amounts are ok perhaps larger amounts are not. It is well accepted that there are people out there who are sensitive to MSG. They do not call it an allergy though it must be close. I guess as soon as it is labels as a potential allergen the rules pertaining to its use will change immediately.

    Am I sensitive to MSG?

    Well, the best way to test this is to go MSG free for a few weeks and then you will notice any change when you are off the MSG and when you get back on MSG. Here is a list of some symptoms:

    Known Symptoms

    • Headache
    • Chest pain
    • Sweating
    • Flushing
    • Burning or numbness inside or around the mouth
    • Burning or numbness in the back of the neck 
    • Facial pressure or tightness
    • Tingling, warmth and weakness in the face, temples, upper back, neck and arms
    • Shortness of breath
    • Weakness
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Nausea
    • Drowsiness

    Uncorroborated Symptoms

    • Migraine
    • Heart palpations
    • Fatigue
    • Hives
    • Rash
    • Diarrhoea
    • Bloating
    • Joint pain
    • Depression
    • Insomnia
    • Seizures
    • Angina
    • Hyperactivity
    • Neurological disorders

    These symptoms can start within minutes or hours of eating MSG and last for up to 48 hours!



    While MSG may be considered safe there is definitely more of it in our diet than would be natural. With all of the negative information out there on MSG you might be best using a cautionary approach. Avoid MSG when possible. If you know you are sensitive to MSG you should be avoiding it now. Its best to err on the side of caution.

    How can I avoid MSG?

     Avoiding all use of glutamates can be difficult. Glutamate occurs naturally in protein-containing foods such as meat, fish, milk and many vegetables, it is not listed separately on the label. It is also part of hydrolysed vegetable protein used in seasoning commercially prepared meat products, soups, sauces, bouillons and gravy mixes. Basically, if it comes in a can or is processed then it likely has MSG.

    In Canada, the presence of MSG or hydrolyzed vegetable protein or hydrolyzed plant protein must be listed on the label. Label reflects the contents in decreasing order of proportions. If MSG is near the top of the list it is a main ingredient!

    What about restaurants?

    Question the staff at your favourite restaurants. If they use MSG as them if they are able to prepare your meal with out adding it. If they can not accommodate you find another restaurant. Veggie and meat dishes are a prime culprit for MSG. Desserts, fruits and baked goods are usually clean. Restaurant soups can be particularly rich in MSG.

    By the way, it should come as no surprise that fast food joints are big offenders when it comes to using too much MSG as are many Asian restaurants.


    This information was put together using some sources around the internet. The information is very basic but basically I just wanted to make the point to everyone that MSG is still considered safe globally. That being said, some people are sensitive. If you think you are then consider talking about it with your family doctor. When you do your own reading online remember that the internet is not the best place to be getting your medical advice. Do not make decisions without consulting your family doctor.