From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

MSG - revisited

My boss sent me a text message recently and said that she was having Beef & Broccoli, then later sent me a message saying that she wasn't feeling well.  I asked about the origin of the food and she said that it had been made with the seasonings and flavors coming from a package. We enjoy discussing
the many different Chinese food options, as well as the need to be sure that specific meals are made as authentically as possible.

She has confided that one of the only Chinese measl she chose to eat was mine, because in the past, she had many attacks of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. I blamed them on the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and suggested that she look for a restaurant where she felt secure that no MSG was used. (I am very strict about NOT using MSG in my cooking because of the sensitivities my Dad had informed me he suffered from.)

The illness dubbed 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome' was first described in 1968 by Robert Ho Man Kwok in a letter to the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. He reported that MSG, which was used by Chinese chefs as a flavor enhancer, might be responsible for the syndrome of headaches, flushing and palpitations that some people experienced when they were eating in Chinese restaurants.

In my years of cooking and researching Chinese food, I have encountered a good deal of skepticism exists about the authenticity of MSG-induced illness because careful research has shown that very few people experience detrimental effects from MSG.

Studies have shown that when people who believed themselves sensitive to MSG, drank soup with and without MSG; most who claimed to be sensitive to its effects had no reactions after drinking the soup that contained more MSG than typically found in Chinese food.
My own experience with people who believed they were sensitive to MSG taught me that such people are usually very sure of their ability to identify any foods that contain this flavor enhancer. Christal was no exception, especially given her reaction to the packaged Top Ramen, consumed with varying amounts of the seasoning package that was included.

It is interesting to note that varying amounts of MSG come in everyday foods and seasonings.  An example is Doritos.  And Knorr Chicken Boullion cubes.  Cheezits. I am willing to bet that if we were to take 20 prepared or packaged foods, over half of them would have MSG.

For health's sake, it is worth reviewing the ingredient list on packaging. 

Until then, Good Eating, Friends...
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