Monosodium Glutamate

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  • Topic: Flavor, Taste, Monosodium glutamate
  • Pages : 11 (3435 words )
  • Download(s) : 78
  • Published : April 9, 2013
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Modern methods of food production have altered radically from processes used in the past. Many food producing companies have invented their own improved techniques of cooking. Most of these procedures contain numerous different forms of chemical additives and one of the newest chemical substances that will enhance food flavor is monosodium glutamate (MSG). Even though it has no taste of its own, it intensifies considerably the taste of a wide variety of food as well as revealing flavors that could be hidden. While there are numerous reports of its dramatic effects, rigorous experimental evidence of its impact on measured preference is lacking. Moreover, James and Kantrowitz (1952, pp. 573-579) emphasize that MSG can cause definite changes in the flavor of various foodstuffs and that these changes usually occur in the direction of increased palatability. Moreover, MSG produces a unique flavor that cannot be provided by other foods. Sometimes, Birks (2005, pp. 28–29) implies that MSG elicits a taste described in Japanese as umami, which translates to savory. Raiten, Talbot and Fisher (1995) inform that this property was first described in 1909 with respect to the glutamine content of konbu (a brown seaweed used in Japanese cooking) seaweed. Furthermore, Birks (2005, pp. 28-29) reports that umami taste does not necessarily evoke a flavor itself, despite, umami enhances other flavors. Sake, for example, has significant glutamate content; hence, the Japanese believe that sake enhances a meal. Although food additives can enhance the flavor of food, there is considerable debate about the undesirable effects on humans such as physiological damage, psychological impacts and changes in food palatability. This essay will tentatively conclude that consuming food that contains MSG can be detrimental to one’s health and can cause serious mental and physical health problems.

There are several physiological harms connected to MSG consumption. Therefore Kwok (1968, p. 796) observes that in the case of Chinese food or so-called Chinese restaurant syndrome (CRS), every potential consumer should remember that typical Chinese restaurant meals contain high concentrations of MSG and the symptoms of the CRS may include numbness, radiating to the back, arms, and neck; weakness; and palpitations. Additionally, Geha et al. (2000, pp. 1058–1062) illustrate that other symptoms include tightness, flushing, dizziness and facial pressure. Consequently, it appears that MSG may have numerous adverse effects. Although it is within the realm of biological plausibility that certain individuals experience a hypersensitivity to MSG, there is a lack of information to substantiate this claim. Also, several researches show that MSG attracted the most attention as a possible source of CRS symptoms. However, Tarasoff and Kelly (1993, pp. 1019–1035) raised serious questions about the validity of prior studies. There are significant measurement issues that affect one’s ability to evaluate MSG with a robust experimental design. On the other hand, another study by Kenney (1986, pp. 351–354) suggested that esophageal irritation from MSG was the mechanism that produced MSG symptoms. For example, MSG is not routinely consumed solitarily; instead, it is served with food. Thus, it is prudent for everyone to monitor their diets for potential headache, migraine, and asthma triggers.

Several experiments show that MSG does not instigate headache. However, Radnitz (1990, pp. 51–65) suggested that MSG prompts a generalized vasomotor (relating to or affecting the diameter of blood vessels) reaction, which causes throbbing pain at the temples and a beating sensation across the forehead. In addition, Radnitz’s claim derived not from a clinical trial but from an advice from the Diamond Headache Clinic. She also argued that those who experience migraine headaches are more susceptible to headache triggered by MSG. At the same time Leira and Rodrıguez (1995, pp. 534–538) described how MSG...
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