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Is There Evidence to Back Up Claims Against MSG?

By November 11, 2015August 12th, 2016Featured, In the News, MSG
Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

A recent investigative report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which is the public-service broadcaster of the United Kingdom, focuses on this topic:

“Monosodium glutamate is often blamed for a range of side effects. But is there evidence to back up these MSG claims?”

The article, published on November 10, 2015, notes:  “It used to be called ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’: a collection of symptoms such as headache, nausea and a strange numbness that certain people seem to suffer after a meal of Chinese food, which went beyond the usual queasiness and self-loathing at having eaten one too many barbecued pork buns. The ingredient allegedly to blame is a commonly used seasoning called monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG.”

The article then discusses the discovery and history of MSG, and reviews the extensive scientific research that has been conducted on MSG, including the review by an expert panel of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) which was commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1995.

According to the article, “To begin with, the expert panel dismissed the term ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ as “pejorative and not reflective of the extent or nature of the symptoms”, choosing instead the term ‘MSG symptom complex’ to describe the many and varied symptoms linked to consumption of MSG. But they did conclude there was enough scientific evidence to suggest the existence of a subgroup of healthy individuals in the general population who may respond badly to large doses of MSG, usually within an hour of exposure. But these reactions were observed in studies where they were given 3 grams or more of MSG delivered in water, without food; a scenario unlikely to occur in the real world where, according to the FDA, most people will get around 0.55 grams per day of added MSG in their diet.”

To read the full BBC report in its entirety, click here:


The MSGdish Team's goal is to provide timely and important information about glutamate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the many culinary creations inspired by “umami" while connecting these topics to facts about food, taste, and health. The MSGdish Team is comprised of TGA staff professionals who are recognized as experts in science-based nutrition communications. Read more on the About page.

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