Why Do Food Companies Use MSG?

shutterstock_288637829MSG is a common ingredient in many packaged foods and many food companies claim that MSG is a “flavor enhancer” or a preservative and

that is necessary to keep packaged foods fresh and healthful.

The truth is that MSG does not tenderize meat or preserve food. It does however trick your taste buds into thinking that MSG treated food tastes good, has healthy ingredients in it like protein, and therefore must be good for you.

Food companies use MSG to disguise the “tinny” taste of canned food products and to give a fresh taste to frozen or freeze-dried foods. Food companies are able to make their ingredients go much further with the help of this flavor enhancer, thus cutting their production costs. Inferior products and higher profits prevail at the expense of consumer health.

For some people though it is not a flavor enhancer, but a harmful ingredient that can cause headaches, vomiting, diarrhea and asthma attacks

shutterstock_277864553Why do some people experience a reaction after ingesting MSG?
MSG works like a drug, altering taste buds’ sensitivity. Not everyone reacts negatively to MSG, it is estimated that about 30% has an adverse reaction.

Current levels added to food are fifty times higher than amounts used forty years ago—and the amount of MSG added to our food grows each year.

What kinds of reactions can MSG cause in people?

Some documented reactions to ingesting MSG include:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Asthma attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety

Not everyone is sensitive to mono sodium glutamate but many pediatricians recommend avoiding this ingredient in baby food or food for toddlers. In addition, some medical research has revealed glutamate connections in Alzheimer’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), diabetes, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Hidden sources

MSG must be included on the label; food manufacturers are aware that consumers have become familiar with mono-sodium glutamate.  When added to another ingredient, as is the case with carrageenan (seaweed) the FDA does not require that MSG be included on a label.

Food labels list the ingredients in descending order. The higher up on the list an ingredient – the greater the quantity there is of that ingredient. For example, a bread label might list whole-wheat flour or unbleached flour as the first ingredient because the main ingredient in bread is flour.

There is some controversy about products which may contain MSG and yet do NOT list it as an ingredient.

Possible Sources of MSGshutterstock_67879747

  • Textured protein
  • Carrageenan
  • Vegetable gum
  • Natural flavorings
  • Smoke flavoring
  • Bouillon
  • Barley malt
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy extract

If you are concerned about artificial flavors and MSG the best way to avoid them is to use fresh food. Buying wholesome ingredients for cooking rather than pre-packaged processed foods may require more planning, but will be healthier for you and your loved ones.