Is MSG Safe?

Worldwide safety evaluation of MSG

MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. The Ajinomoto Group was the first company in the world to develop and market a commercial seasoning made from glutamic acid, the taste of umami.

Although MSG has long been the subject of vague safety concerns, scientists and health experts alike have proven time and again that MSG is safe for people to consume. Regulatory bodies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), too, have never been able to confirm that MSG causes any of the reported effects, such as headache or nausea.

Why is MSG Rumored to Be Harmful?

In the late 1960s, a letter published in a U.S. medical journal alleged that eating Chinese restaurant food triggered headaches, heart palpitations, and other symptoms. This led to the widespread misperception that MSG, which Chinese restaurants were known to use, caused these symptoms, and the term Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) was coined. Rising anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. at that time fueled this misperception, and the negative image of MSG became fixed in the public imagination.

MSG Receives “Generally Recognized as Safe” Designation from FDA

While the controversy continued throughout the 1980s and 90s, the link between MSG and CRS was scientifically and incontrovertibly disproven by both the FDA and the United Nation’s Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), which released findings that MSG posed no safety concerns whatsoever.

According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), glutamate that occurs naturally in certain foods is the same as glutamate in MSG. While there are different kinds of glutamate, the body metabolizes all glutamate the same way, no matter where it comes from. Humans take in 20 to 40 times more glutamate from foods than from seasonings.

The ACS states that, for these reasons, monosodium glutamate is a safe product. MSG is not considered an allergen and it was removed by the International Headache Society from its list of causative factors for headaches in January of 2018.

Get the facts on monosodium glutamate (MSG) : Michelle Dudash, RDN

MSG is Made from Plants

How Fermentation is used to make monosodium glutamate

MSG is made of raw materials derived from sugarcane and other crops through fermentation with microorganisms. First, molasses or sugar extracted from sugarcane, corn, or cassava is placed in a fermentation tank, to which fermentative microbes are then added. These microbes consume the glucose, releasing glutamic acid, which though neutralization is turned into a solution that contains MSG. This solution is then decolorized and filtered, resulting in a pure MSG solution. This pure solution is crystallized using an evaporator and the crystals dried to produce the final product—MSG.

MSG, the taste of umami, makes the world more delicious!

MSG, the taste of umami, brings out the natural flavor of ingredients, adding richness and depth and harmonizing flavor, to make food everywhere more delicious. Why not try out some of our umami recipes inspired by food cultures and tastes from around the world.

Umami Recipes

Find out what Nick Lee made to win the 2018 World Umami Cooking Competition, part of the World Umami Forum presented by the Ajinomoto Group.

Stirring the emotions with umami: the rise of a young Korean-American chef

The Ajinomoto Group aims to achieve its vision for 2030 to become a
“solution-providing group of companies for food and health issues.”

When and how umami was discovered


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