Food Additive: MSG - is it bad for us?


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Food Additive: MSG - is it bad for us?

  1. 1. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE IS MSG IS BAD? Food Science (AHD 1132) Alhafizah A. Ramos 1215382 Bachelor of Dietetics (Hons) International Islamic University Malaysia 1
  2. 2. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? CONTENT INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY …………………………………………3 PRODUCTION AND APPEREANCE …………………………………………5 USAGE AND PRODUCTS …………………………………………6 SAFETY ISSUES …………………………………………7 IS MSG IS BAD FOR US? …………………………………………12 REFERENCES …………………………………………14 2
  3. 3. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY OF MSG Food additives can be defined as a foreign substance that is added to a particular food intentionally or accidentally during the process of making the food. Apparently, manufacturer add the food additives to their food product because they want to improve the appearance and taste of the food. The additives can be manmade or natural substances. There is numerous food additives used in the food industry. One of them is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Almost everybody knows basically what MSG is since it is used worldwide in countless food products by a lots of renowned fast food companies. According to Jehad M. Yousef (2011), Monosodium glutamate also known as sodium glutamate and MSG, it is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid. MSG occurs naturally in foods and is one of the most common amino acids. Although it occurs naturally, MSG is also produced commercially for the use as a food additive and flavor enhancer (Moncel, n.d). The history of MSG came out by Kikunae Ikeda a professor at Tokyo Imperial University back 1908. Ikeda said in his journal regarding to his study (1909), “In the past it was said that there are five Figure 1: Kikunae Ikeda (Source: taste qualities: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and hot. A hot sensation is just a skin mechanical sensation; therefore today's scientists 3
  4. 4. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? do not regard this sensation as a taste. Furthermore, such qualities as metallic, alkaline and astringent are not considered to be tastes (at least not pure tastes), because they cannot be separated from the sensation accompanied by tissue damage. Therefore, Physiologists and psychologists recognize only the four tastes sour, sweet, salty and bitter. Other tastes are considered to be a mixture of these tastes. However, I believe that there is at least one other additional taste which is quite distinct from the four tastes. It is the peculiar taste which we feel as `UMAI (meaning brothy, meaty, or savory)', arising from fish, meat and so forth. The taste is most characteristic of broth prepared from dried bonito and seaweed [Laminaria japonica]. While it is based on a subjective sensation, many people who are asked always agree to this conjecture either immediately or after brief consideration. Consequently, there can be little doubt that another taste exists in addition to the four tastes. I propose to call this taste `UMAMI' for convenience.” The research was done by Ikeda on a subject call „dashi‟ which is a Japanese soup base. He proposed that the taste of the dashi is different from the four basic tastes. Hence, he undertook the study by isolating the main ingredient of the dashi which is the seaweed Laminaria Japonica. It was extracted, crystallized, precipitated and numerous chemical processes that finally lead to the founding of a 4
  5. 5. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? single substance with the mass formula C5H9NO4: glutamic acid. It taste was named umami, a word derived from the Japanese adjective umai (delicious). Eventually, Ikeda succeeded obtained the production patent of the MSG within a year. (Lindermann, Ogiwara, Ninomiya, 2002; Sano, 2009) PRODUCTION AND APPEREANCE OF MSG Since its discovery, three methods have been used to produce MSG: vegetable protein hydrolysis, direct chemical synthesis, and bacterial fermentation. Bacterial fermentation is the method most often used today because of the low cost and high yield. In this process, the common bacteria used is micrococcus glutamicus, grown aerobically in a liquid medium that contains nutrients. The bacteria have the ability to produce glutamic acid and it will be accumulated in the medium. The collected glutamic acid will be separated from the Figure 2: Monosodium Glutamate Crystal (Source: Wikipedia/Glutamic acid (flavor)) fermentation broth by filtration, acidification and crystallization followed by conversion to its monosodium salt, MSG. (Khan, Abourashed, 2011, p. 2008). According to Jim Smith and Lily Hong-Shum (2008, p. 496), the monosodium salt of L-form of glutamic acid is white or almost white 5
  6. 6. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? crystal and it is usually in the form of powder. Slightly smell like peptone and meat-like taste. This substance is soluble in water but slightly soluble in alcohol. USAGE AND PRODUCTS OF MSG As we all know the most famous brand that we can relate to this substance is Ajinomoto. This is the first brand in the world that manufactures and produces MSG worldwide. Originally Ajinomoto was founded on 1907 by Dr. Kikunae Ikeda and Mr. Saburosuke Suzuki II in Japan and it named as Suzuki Seiyakusho Co. In the year 1946 it changed company name to Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Ajinamoto, n.d.). It was sold in a packet or bottle of powdered crystal MSG, used as a flavor enhancer in cooking. Figure 3: Ajinamoto Logo (Source: There are a vast number of companies or restaurants put MSG in their products. Below are the lists of some renowned company that use high amount of MSG in their food products,  McDonald ®  Burger King ®  KFC ®  Campbell's® soups - all of them - based on their commitment to add "umami" (read - MSG) to their products  Pringles® (the flavored varieties) 6
  7. 7. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD?  Unilever or Knorr® products - often used in homemade Veggie dips.  Kraft® products nearly all contain some free glutamate  sausages - most supermarkets add MSG to theirs  processed cheese spread  instant soup mixes  many salad dressings  flavored potato chips  Parmesan cheese - naturally high in free glutamate  over-ripe tomatoes - naturally high in free glutamate  mushrooms - naturally high in free glutamate Listed by, (2011). SAFETY ISSUES OF MSG Since the early of 18 centuries, MSG is used worldwide in food preparation especially in Japanese and Chinese cuisines. In 1956, United State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified MSG as a „generally recognize as safe‟ (GRAS). According to FDA, GRAS defined as “the substance that generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use”. Other examples of GRAS food additives are salt, sugar and vinegar. 7
  8. 8. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) During that time, there is no comment on the FDA regarding to the MSG as a safe food additive (GRAS). Until 1968, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok, become the first one to produce a published report on the reaction of MSG in the body. He described the symptom he experienced a few minutes after he eating Chinese cuisine which were numbness of the back and neck, feeling pressure in the face and upper chest muscle. He called this collection of symptoms as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” (Winter,A., Winter,R., 2007, p. 103). This syndrome is also called as „Hot dog headache‟, „Glutamateinduced asthma‟ or MSG syndrome (PubMed, n.d.). MSG was felt to be the cause of these symptoms. However, many studies have failed to show a connection between MSG and the symptoms that some people describe after eating Chinese food. For this reason, MSG continues to be used in some meals. Still, it is possible that some people are particularly sensitive to the MSG but the reaction is mild and not lasting (PubMed, n.d.). Obesity According to the National Institutes of Health in America, from 1960 to 2000, the percentage of obese American adults under the age of 75 is more than doubled, and childhood obesity reached approximately 15 percent (Nakaya, 2006, p.19). Many other published statistics also share the same rising trend. World Health 8
  9. 9. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? Organization (WHO) stated that 33 percent of Malaysians are obese (Young, 2012, p.153). Back 1980s, experts have no idea what causing the rate of obesity among childhood to rise. Now, there are few researches done to link MSG with obesity. In an experiment done by Caudle and Lorden (1986), the mice were treated with repeated injection of doses MSG and it had produces a syndrome of obesity to the mice. Other method of experiment was done by surveying the diet intake and health of adult Chinese communities. They found out that, MSG consumption was positively, longitudinally associated with overweight development among apparently healthy Chinese adults (Ka, Shufa, Pengcheng, Sharma et al., 2011). Seemingly, one of the causes of obesity is over eating. Recent scientific finding also found out that MSG can increase the appetite of the consumer (Yamaguchi and Kimizuka as cited in Yamamoto, Tomoe, Toyama et al., 2009). This will cause the people to eat more and probably would lead to obesity. MSG can cause Brain Damage – Excitotoxicity Glutamate is one of a non-essential amino acid that can be found in the brain. It has a strong excitatory effect on the neurons. In the brain tissue, low concentration of this amino acid makes it function as a neurotransmitter but it can become a neurotoxin/excitotoxin if the concentration becomes very high 9
  10. 10. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? (Farooqui, Wei-Yi and Horrocks, 2007, p.1). Excessive stimulation by the glutamate neurotransmitter can damage the nerve cell. This pathological process is known as Excitotoxicity (Wikipedia, 2012). Olney (1970) found in his experiment that the oral intake of glutamate on mice cause brain damage. Few other researches also share the same results. However, there has been debate among scientists on the significance of these findings. The debate is complex and has focused on whether humans are susceptible to the neurotoxicity from glutamic acid seen in some animal experiments (Meldrum, 1993)*. At a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in 1990, the delegates had a split opinion on the issues related to neurotoxic effects from excitotoxic amino acids found in monosodium glutamate (Barinaga, 1990)*. Some scientists believe that humans and other primates are not as susceptible to excitotoxins as rodents and therefore there is little concern with glutamic acid as a food additive (Abraham, Swart, Golberg, Coulston, 1975; Reynolds, Butler, Lemkey-Johnston, 1976)*. But on the other behalf, they believe the opposite. Based on the findings, they feel that humans are approximately 5-6 times more susceptible to the effects of excitotoxins than rodents are (Olney, 1984)*. However, they agree that typical use of monosodium glutamate does not spike glutamic acid to extremely high levels in 10
  11. 11. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? adults, yet they are particularly concerned with potential effects in infants and young children (Olney, 1990)* * – As cited in; Regarding to the safety issues of MSG, R. Winter and A. Winter (2007, p.107) said that “MSG is on the FDA list of additives that need further study for mutagenic, teratogenic, subacute and reproductive effects”. They also included in their book about the final report in 1980 to the FDA of the Select Committee on Generally Recognized as Safe substances, stated that while no evidence in the available information on MSG demonstrated a hazard to the public at current use levels, the uncertainties that exist require that additional studies be conducted. Dr. Blaylock says that one reason it is so difficult to convince the FDA of the connection between MSG and delayed brain damage in human is because it may take ten years before clinical signs of neurological damage show up. This damage is slow and cumulative. (Winter, A & Winter, R., 2007, p.107) The FDA does not place regulatory restriction on the use of glutamic acid. They also do not have a program for monitoring how or in what amount glutamate used. (Winter, A & Winter, R., 2007, p.107) 11
  12. 12. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? IS MSG IS BAD FOR US? Although there‟s still no final concrete scientific proof that MSG can cause brain damage on the human, we still have to consider the previous vigilant researches that came out with the conclusion that MSG is hazardous to the health. Those findings are not simple studies because it took several years to be done. Nevertheless, the scientists agree that regular consumption of the MSG would not cause brain damage. Same goes to other health problem such as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome or obesity. We have to be moderate and observe carefully our dietary intake and total food consumption. As stated in the Quran, Allah said, “… and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” (7:31). We should use the MSG during food preparation temperately and avoid eating foods containing the additives excessively. In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah also advice “O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is (indeed) Him that you worship.” (2:172). God reminds us to take good and healthy food. We must lessen our consumption on fast food that contain not only high MSG but salt, fat, or sugar. Instead, eat more non-MSG food like vegetables or cook without using MSG. As a conclusion, MSG is not a poisoned that kills people. It is us, who decided to make the MSG react bad by excessive usage of 12
  13. 13. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? MSG in our food. We cannot just simply blame the fast food companies or other manufacturer that produce high MSG contain in our food. All the decision is in our hand to manage our diet habit. Health is a gift gives by Allah S.W.T and we should not neglect it. As quoted by Dr. Nik Mazlan, an experienced dietician, “There is no bad food, just bad diet”. 13
  14. 14. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? LIST OF REFERENCES Al-Quranul Karim, retrieved October 7, 2012 from Yousef, J.M. (2011). Study the Impact of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Extract of Green Tea (Theaceae Family) Leaves-Induces on Kidney Biochemical Function in Rats. International Journal of Academic Research, 3(3), 1. Moncel, B. (n.d). Monosodium Glutamate - What is MSG?. Food Reference. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www. Ikeda, K. (1909). New Seasonings. (Y. Ogiwara & Y. Ninomiya. Trans.). Chemical Senses Oxford Journals (2002), 27 (9), 847-849. doi: 10.1093/chemse/27.9.847 Lindeman, B., Ogiwara, Y. & Ninomiya, Y. (2002). The Discovery of Umami. Chemical Senses Oxford Journals, 27 (9), 843-844. doi: 10.1093/chemse/27.9.843 Chiaki, S. (2009). History of glutamate production [Abstract]. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3), 728S-732S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27462F Khan, I.A., & Abourashed, E.A. (2011). Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients:Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics (3rd ed.). Milton: John Wiley & Sons. Smith, J., & Hong-Shum, L., (2008). Food Additives Data Book. Milton: John Wiley & Sons. Ajinamoto Group History (n.d.). Ajinamoto. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from What Foods to Avoid (2011). Retrieved October 6, 2012, from Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Monosodium L-glutamate (2011).U.S Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved October 6 2012, from GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Database Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). (2012).U.S Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved October 6 2012, from fault.htm Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (2010). PubMed Health. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from Nakaya, A.C. (Ed.).(2006). Obesity: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hill, MI: Thomson Gale Young, E.M.M. (2012), Food and Development: National Perspectives. Oxford, UK: Routledge. 14
  15. 15. FOOD ADDITIVES – MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: IS MSG IS BAD? Caudle, A., Lorden, J.F.(1986). Behavioral and endocrinological effects of single injections of monosodium glutamate in the mouse [abstract]., 8(5), 509-19. Retrieved October 6, 2012, from He, K., Du, S. Pengcheng, X. Sharma S., Huijun W.,Fengying, Z., & Popkin, B. (2011). Consumption of monosodium glutamate in relation to incidence of overweight in Chinese adults: China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 93(6) 13281336 doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.008870 Yamamoto, S. Tomoe, M., Toyama, K., Kawai, M., & Uneyama, H. (2009). Can dietary supplementation of monosodium glutamate improve the health of the elderly?. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(3) 844S-849S doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27462X Farooqui, A., Ong, W. Horrocks, L. (2008). Neurochemical Aspects of Excitotoxicity: Introduction. Dallax, TX: Springer. Glutamic Acid (Flavor). (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2012, from Winter, A., Winter, R. (2007). Smart Food: Diet and Nutrition for Maximum Brain Power. iUniverse. 15