Mono Sodium Glutamate was a buzz word from the 80’s and 90’s. It seemed that everyone had a story to tell about the after-effects of this flavour enhancing food additive. MSG used to be a dirty word, but it seems that in the past decade, the tide of scientific evidence has turned the other way. Do we have anything to worry about?
After moving to Auckland my boyfriend and I were frequenting some Asian food courts. Then we started experiencing these overwhelming…let’s just say….amplified, severe and hallucinogenic affects after tucking in to Asian food. This led me to investigate into MSG and other nefarious ingredients. Perhaps we all should be more vigilant about the additives, preservatives and flavour enhancers allowed in our food?
Here are the facts…
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) consumption Is Associated with Urolithiasis and Urinary Tract Obstruction in Rats. According to open-access peer researched journal PLOS:One.
What to look out for on the labels
Preservative 635, monosodium glutamate, preservative 621 or anything that says flavour enhancer.
Common foods that contain MSG
Cheetos Cheese and Bacon Balls
Doritos Cheese Supreme
CC’s Nacho Cheese
Cheezles Original Cheese
Arnott’s Shapes Nacho Cheese
Smith’s Cheese and Onion chips
Smith’s Chicken chips
Smith’s Barbecue chips
Smith’s Salt and Vinegar chips
Homebrand BBQ flavoured rice crackers
Kraft Snackabouts cheese spread
Maggi chicken flavoured noodles
Maggi beef flavoured noodles
Fantastic Chicken and Corn noodles
Fantastic Chicken noodles
Suimin Chicken noodles
Common Symptoms of ingesting MSG
Studies indicate that up to 36% of us are sensitive to MSG and other flavour enhancers and preservatives. Symptoms can range from everything from a simple skin rash to asthma, migraines, headaches, heart palpitations, tachycardia, seizures, heightened awareness, incoherent thoughts, and insomnia. These symptoms can occur anywhere between 2 to 8 hours later.
It’s not considered important enough for public disclosure in Australia and NZ
In 2002, consumer health body Truth in Labelling submitted an application to the NSW Health seeking to mandate that all restaurants and food outlets disclose when their food contains MSG. This mandate was refused. This despite many people’s violent and severe reactions to food additives!
Artificial food additives have long been a part of our eating lives, but are they really innocuous?
The list of approved food additives in New Zealand and Australia is long and exhaustive. However despite the government’s insistence that these additives are safe, consumers are nowadays taking back the food that they eat. With the recent move towards buying non-GMO and organic produce, free-range eggs, guerilla gardening and veganism. These are all reasonable and rational consumer responses to these concerns.
A recent documentary about GMO foods called GMO OMG revealed that scientific studies done about genetically modified foods, were funded by the companies who cultivate these foods.
See filmmaker Jeremy Seifert talk about his documentary here
Consumer concerns about MSG go unanswered
Consumer concerns about the long term health effects of MSG have not been adequately addressed with appropriate peer-reviewed research. This leads the curious and inquisitive people (like myself) to question why there is a distinct lack in reliable scientific information about the long term affects of the human consumption of mono sodium glutamate. There have been many studies done, but so far none have provided concrete proof of serious long term side effects. However speak with anyone who ingests MSG and they will report violent and scary symptoms.
Consumer information is rather sketchy about MSG
This pamphlet explodes the ”myths” associated with MSG. It was commissioned by a respected healthcare body in the US. The factsheet seems informative and genuinely factual. Until I had a closer look at who commissioned it. A consumer health and food information portal called International Food Information Council Foundation. This supposedly non-profit, non-partisan group has board members from major corporations like Mars, McDonalds, McCormicks and Danone. This makes the pamphlet and all other information on this pristine website take on a much more uncertain character. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily wrong, but corporations have unfairly influenced the way that the facts are presented here.
What can we do about food additives?
Well if the government won’t change anything, then it’s up to people to change their food habits. We should start being granular and picky about our food choices. And stop buying highly processed foods and to lobby for more clear labelling on food products in Australia and New Zealand.