Sue's Blog

So MSG is ok now?

Q: On the news last night they said the "science" is in that MSG is okay, better than salt, and that chefs, food manufacturers etc are going to start using it more. If I eat MSG, then straightaway or up to two hours later I get a headache and blurred vision/double vision for at least 10-15 minutes. Did anyone else see this news coverage?

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A: I read the same article and fumed at a paid journalist who appears to cover the talking points supplied by the litigious Glutamate Association. So now we ask “foodies”, a chef (albeit a great cook, famous and with a science degree in jurisprudence) and “social media at least” for nutritional and health advice? Really?

A few points

  • “a study showed that using MSG could help some people cut their salt intake by as much 40 per cent” – but did they? This study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490591/ showed that the average noodle packet (all of which contain MSG) contributed 35% to 95% of the World Health Organization recommended daily salt intake of <5 g. Heavily consumed worldwide and who eats one packet? MSG also may lead to metabolic syndrome and increased belly fat

  • “Food Standards Australia deem it safe” - whoopie do! A 2018 review “The adverse effects of MSG include headaches, serious allergic reactions, nausea, chest pains with heart attack–like symptoms, brain edema, weakness, and so forth ... increases the chances of reproductive dysfunction in both females and males”. And in an even more alarming 2010 review MSG was “shown to cause lesions on the brain especially in children ... (which) cause cognitive, endocrinological and emotional abnormalities”. Which is why even FSANZ limit it for children.

  • “only a small number of people may experience a mild hypersensitivity-type reaction to large amounts of MSG when eaten in a single meal” (FSANZ again) – actually, ANYBODY can react if the dose is high enough https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5764480/

and so on....see also:

MSG factsheet with lots of scientific references

2020 blog: Could myopia be related to too much MSG? more recent references

2018 blog: What is MSG? more science.

How industry-funded studies always say MSG is OK and the independent studies don't