A new book called Ingredients (currently pre-order) seeks to demystify 75 common food ingredients which are added to foods, including MSG, “by providing an easy-to-read encyclopedia of sorts on various food additives, their uses, and their history.”
The book was featured on NPR on September 25, 2015 in this segment: www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/25/442823596/ingredients-an-eye-opening-look-at-the-additives-in-our-food .
In the segment reporter Tove Danovich notes, “We may eat a lot of food additives, but most consumers know very little about them. These often-misunderstood substances go by unwieldy names like “diacetyl” or “azodicarbonamide.” They are in everything from salad dressings to Twinkies. But how many of us actually know what they look like or, more importantly, what they’re doing in our food?”
The book addresses monosodium glutamate – better known as MSG — among the 75 food ingredients that are profiled.
According to the NPR report, “For decades the additive [MSG], popular in Asian cooking and other cuisines, has had a reputation for causing ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ — health woes including heart palpitations and other allergic reactions. But today, most scientists agree that this reputation is entirely unfounded. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid, and the same flavor enhancer that makes Parmesan cheese or tomato sauce so delicious. In the form of MSG, it’s just one of many white powders and clear liquids that have gotten a bad reputation because of a poor understanding of chemistry and public mistrust.”