MSG

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 1 year 6 weeks ago.

Ok so I had never even heard of MSG and its 'dangers' until I started to read about Japanese and Oriental cooking. I have never experienced 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' nor have I met anyone who has. So I was very surprised to learn about it.

Then once I had discovered its apparent dangers, I watch something on the good old BBC that seemed to suggest the opposite. The show was E-Numbers: An Edible Adventure and it was the first or second episode. If you can watch iPlayer, do so as it is awesome. If not I am sure someone has youtubed it already.

Anyway basically one part of the show covered MSG. They asked chefs to discuss it but only one would Jun Tanaka (who I love!) Now he says he uses it in his cooking and says it adds something that he can't put his finger on but knows if it is missing kind of thing. There was also a sciency bit, which is what got me thinking, where they explained how MSG is absorbed in the body. Simply, the MSG seperates almost immediately when digested and the sodium part os absorbed like normal, the same as salt, and the glutamate is left the thing that causes all the problems apparently. Well glutamate is found in loads of foods like broccoli carrots chicken etc etc etc and the MSG glutamate is absorbed in the same way as in the other 'natural' stuff.

What did they do, grab a bunch of people and make them eat 2 different cuisines. One group ate Chinese food with no MSG but had loads of ingredients that contained glutamate naturally. And the other ate Italian and again, had foods that contained glutamate naturally. 7 (or 8 can't remember) out of the 10 said they had symptoms associated with eating MSG. The conclusion, it was the glutamate not the MSG compound.

I may not have explained it completely well, but I hope you get the idea. If not try and watch the show it was very good! So I'm wondering if this whole MSG thing was just over hyped?

____________________________________

I'm not short, I'm fun sized ^_^

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pii_bii
Bento-ing from: Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Joined: 6 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 3 years 2 weeks ago.
Re: MSG

Ooh, I must iPlayer this! the first part was really good!
I get the feeling that nowadays, people are much more open minded about E numbers - when I was growing up, my Mum had a copy of the book 'E is for Additives' and tried to steer away from all E numbers, and the consensus was that they were 'not natural' and generally evil. I DO in fact react badly to some additives. The point is though, some additives listed as E numbers ARE natural - cochineal, which I avoid as a veggie, for example - and just because they occur naturally, doesn't mean that they are 'good' or 'bad'. People can have pretty bad reactions to various natural additives.
I think perhaps with MSG, the scare was that restaurants and food producers were throwing it about liberally, and sticking it in EVERYTHING - which is a situation very similar to salt, which we all know is not damaging, so long as you eat the right amount - but it is interesting to think that 'natural' sources of glutamate may have similar effects to processed MSG.

I can't even remember what it was that MSG was supposed to do now - heart palpitations and what-not, was it? Oh, I'll stop rambling and check out episode 2, and then I can make a fair assessment!

bronwyncarlisle
Moderator
Bento-ing from: Dunedin › New Zealand
Joined: 12 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 5 weeks ago.
Re: MSG

Glutamate is in every protein in VERY large quantities. It's one of the 20 amino acids that make up the vast bulk of all proteins, and it's one of the most common ones. So if you are eating 100g of protein, you're probably eating at least 5 g of glutamate. And that's far far more than any cook adds to a serving of food as MSG. I have never been able to understand why people seem to react badly to it.

____________________________________

Bronwyn

My blog is Food and Shoes

pii_bii
Bento-ing from: Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Joined: 6 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 3 years 2 weeks ago.
Re: MSG

Well, I seem to have a very short attention span, 'cos it turns out that it WAS in the first episode...
Anyway, it does make sense that people would react to naturally occurring glutamates in the same way as MSG, although the 'experiment' wasn't particularly scientific... Still it's a good show, and it does teach me something new every so often. Good fun. There was a new one last night that any Brits out there (sorry, rest of world!) should be able to see on iPlayer or Catch-up. Just a warning...don't watch it while having your tea, like I did. Some slightly icky stuff this time round!

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 1 year 6 weeks ago.
Re: MSG

No that's what I said, but even if it not very scientific, I bed they could replicate the results at least... And it just shows maybe we're too harsh on some chemicals cause of what the media says. I didn't realise how many E-Numbers are things that occur naturally, but have to be given a name sort of thing like pregnant bugs (haha thats waaay funnier to me).

Last night was gross! I watched it at the gym, so glad I wasn't eating haha! And he actually ate that bacon! Like I ever would!

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 5 hours ago.
Re: MSG

I finally got around to watching this the other day. First off, Stefan Gates at the moment is my favorite food-related TV personality. I loved the Cooking in the Danger Zone series. Anyway, the E numbers series is very entertaining and quite enlightening too, though I was surprised at how much of that I knew already. The MSG segment was great. My mother always reacts badly to MSG - or at least, she complains when she thinks some food has MSG in it - and she's Japanese! (I have wondered for some time if she's reacting just as much to the sodium in MSG as to the glutamates.) I'm just old enough to remember a time when Ajinomoto, the original MSG brand, was popular as a gift item in Japan - my parents used to get great big cans of it sent to them. Nowadays, MSG is getting almost as vilified in Japan as it is in the west, though people do still use 'flavor enhancers'. I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy MSG anytime soon, but it's interesting to ponder that a few people are sensitive to glutamates in general, not MSG per se.

The second episode about preservatives and flavorings was fascinating too. Funny in a way that we all seem to be clamoring for 'all-natural' products these days on the one hand, but get inordinately upset when some sort of food contamination scandal breaks out. With mass food production, you have to wonder if it's really realistic to expect food to be safe AND 'natural' all the time.

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The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

Leelee
Bento-ing from: Stevenage › UK
Joined: 10 Aug 2010
User offline. Last seen 1 year 6 weeks ago.
Re: MSG

Its true about things having to be natural then complaining! The food companies just can't win can they? To be honest I think if its in moderation it can't be too harmful to me. I cook most things from scratch myself anyway, so even though my tom puree may have some in or something, I don't think I eat enough for the E's to be a problem.

I do think the media hype how 'bad' they are though. Good ol' Daily Hate and the likes scaring the public

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