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FAQs about MSG


What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)?
It is a flavor enhancer, the sodium salt* of glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid which is present in all protein foods such as seafood, meat, vegetables, poultry and milk. The human body also produces its own glutamate, a vital part of normal brain function and can also be found in abundance in mother’s milk.

  • A salt is the chemical name for a molecule held together by opposite charges.

How long has MSG been used?
It has a long history of use! It has been used as a flavor enhancer since 1908.

How is MSG made?
It is usually manufactured via fermentation, a similar process used in making cheese, vinegar and yogurt. Major ingredients used in the manufacture of MSG include corn, sugar cane or tapioca. In the U.S. “AJI-NO-MOTO” is made from corn through fermentation.

What are benefits of MSG?

  • Enhancing flavor.
  • Reducing sodium intake: Most people add salt to improve the flavor of food. Since MSG is a flavor enhancer and low in sodium, you can decrease salt while increasing flavor and taste.

Q1: Does MSG have expiration?
A1: Under normal handling and storage conditions, MSG can have a very long shelf-life like salt and sugar.

Q2: Does MSG cause thirstiness?
A2: Some people may feel thirsty after eating Chinese food. This is thought to be caused by salt, not by MSG. Although MSG can reduce the amount of salt added in foods, some Chinese restaurants use more salt than needed.

Q3: Is MSG safe?
A3: YES, MSG is safe for people of all ages, including children. There is no scientific evidence to suggest otherwise. MSG is approved by the following organizations:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assigned MSG a “Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)” status. The FDA considers MSG a common food ingredient like salt, baking powder and pepper.
  • In 1987, the United Nation Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) / World Health Organization (WHO) / Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) placed MSG in the safest category of food ingredients. No ADI (Accepted Daily Intake) has been specified, which means there is no safety concern associated with any level of MSG consumption.
  • The European Community’s (EC) Scientific Committee for Foods and the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association (AMA) have both declared MSG safe.
Q4: Why does MSG have a bad reputation?
A4: In 1969, John W. Olney, M.D. published his findings, which raised concerns about neurological effects of MSG when LARGE DOSAGE of MSG was INJECTED to mice. This report caused prejudice among some people even till to this day. However, later studies had revealed that the animal model system used by Olney had no relevance to actual dietary intake of MSG by humans. In fact, many other researchers had since shown dietary glutamate does not result in any harm whatsoever.

Q5: Does MSG contain gluten?
A5: No, it is gluten-free.