• Ever since 1908, MSG has been used in several foods as a flavor enhancer
  • McDonald’s has added MSG to its new chicken sandwiches
  • Experts suggest avoiding foods containing MSG 

Monosodium Glutamate aka MSG is a taste enhancer found in everything from Chinese foods and chicken sandwiches to prepackaged foods, canned soups, and sauces.

Some people have experienced severe reactions to MSG after consuming Chinese foods or hot dogs. Even consuming small amounts of MSG can give people headaches or migraines that can last all day.

“The consensus, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is that MSG is generally recognized as safe,” Healthline quoted Jackie Elnahar, a registered dietitian and founder of TelaDietitian. “However, there are a small minority of people who tend to be more sensitive to MSG and they can experience headaches, flushing, and nausea” he added.

Other side-effects of MSG include flushing, sweating, chest pain, weakness, heart palpitations, and facial pressure or tightness. Although researchers haven’t found any definitive evidence of an association between MSG consumption and the above-mentioned symptoms, it is acknowledged that a small percentage of people do suffer from short term reactions to this food additive.

The symptoms are usually so mild that it doesn’t require any treatment. The experts at the Mayo clinic suggest avoiding foods containing MSG to prevent such reactions. Although it is generally recognized as a safe ingredient, owing to certain controversies, the FDA opines that it be listed on the food labels.

MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most commonly found non-essential amino acids found in food sources such as grapes, tomatoes, and mushrooms. It is extracted and fermented in a similar way how wine and yogurts are made.

According to CBC News, McDonald’s adds MSG in its chicken sandwiches to compete with Chick-fil-A and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. With more than 230 of its outlets in Texas and Tennessee, McDonald’s is currently testing out its new sandwich by including this umami enhancer. However, the rival chicken sandwiches from Popeyes and Chick-fil-A also contain the controversial ingredient.

In 1908, a Japanese chemistry professor determined that MSG was responsible for the meaty or savory taste of a particular broth and since then, various salts of glutamic acid including MSG has been used as food additives to enhance flavor.

McDonald's Chicken Sandwich contains MSG WikimediaImages, Pixabay