HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it
TELL US

You find MSG where?!?

porkbutt03 Jun 18, 2007 09:40 PM

This might be fun... name all the foods you know have MSG.... I will start Cheetos!

  1. t
    Teague Jun 24, 2013 06:33 PM

    Spike, my favorite seasoning mix (the no salt version) is chock full of hydrolyzed yeast. So, msg. Try it in tabouli, you won't be sorry. I don't use the pure stuff, although I noticed last time I visited Mom that she had a McCormick bottle full of it. It was funny, I am a product of my culture as I recoiled physically before I thought better of it. As if it were a shaker full of cocaine. Not that I would know what that looks like of course, haha.

    1. Atomic76 Jun 24, 2013 01:51 AM

      I was more surprised to find out the cheese flavor in cheetos was actually blue cheese.

      I don't buy into the MSG allergy hype, but I do get annoyed by it mainly because when I eat something loaded with it, the flavor lingers in my mouth for hours - no matter how many times I brush my teeth or use mouthwash.

      1. i
        inmybackpages Mar 5, 2008 06:50 AM

        Anytime I eat at a Chinese Restaurant, I always ask for extra MSG, please!

        1. m
          moh Mar 5, 2008 05:19 AM

          There is MSG in Dashida, the Asian instant dashi powder.

          I do not have any MSG in powder form in the house ( although a bunch lives in our cheese drawer and other places I am sure). My mum usually tells me to add a bit of "Accent" to her recipes, and I have ignored her advice for years. Note that my food does not taste as good as hers as a result. Recently, she has stopped telling me to add Accent, and now has told me to start adding Dashida in sparing amounts. I initially complied, but due to this thread, I decided to check on my sneaking suspicion that perhaps there is MSG in Dashida. It was very suspicious that my mother suddenly stopped using Accent.

          I'm going to put myself in the moderation camp for now. Asian cuisine is very dependent on MSG. But I think you need very little to get its desired effect.

          1. sixelagogo Mar 5, 2008 02:55 AM

            NYtimes just had a great article on MSG
            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/din...

            2 Replies
            1. re: sixelagogo
              j
              joonjoon Jun 23, 2013 09:21 PM

              "Linda Bartoshuk, a director of the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste, who has studied the sensory effects of MSG for years, believes not only that MSG is harmful to health, but also that it has virtually no effect on the taste of food. “All this umami stuff is just marketing,” she said."

              Has this woman even *tasted* the stuff? Its effect on food is unmistakable.

              1. re: joonjoon
                maria lorraine Jun 24, 2013 01:53 AM

                Not the first time Bartoshuk has badly blown it in the science of taste.

                She's the one who also says, “All this umami stuff is just marketing,” and that having more taste buds makes you a more perceptive taster.

            2. b
              bcarey Mar 3, 2008 05:32 PM

              The list would be much shorter if we tried listing the things that do not contain MSG. It's everywhere. I don't know the scientific facts that explain my reaction to MSG, and I don't really care about all of the arguments about why it should not affect me. I've never had a problem with foods that just have glutamate, or just have sodium, but when they are combined, I get violently ill. So either me and everyone like me is a freak of nature, or the scientists haven't discovered all the facts yet. I can't eat out anymore. I can't buy prepared food. I have to make everything from scratch because it's just not worth the risk of eating something that does not honestly label the contents. I even have to be careful about the herbs and spices I use! My reaction to MSG is not slight. It's like the worst stomach virus or food poisoning you've ever had, starting within fifteen minutes of the first bite. It lasts for hours. That is followed by at least 2 days of a blinding migraine. I haven't had flavored chips in years. And man I miss my Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles! And I miss my chicken noodle soup when I'm sick. But, on the plus side, it's amazing how much money you save when you have to pack all your lunches and don't spend tons on take-out every week. And I'm turning into a pretty good cook and learning how to make food taste good starting with all fresh ingredients.

              1. t
                tvarad Aug 22, 2007 07:22 AM

                Commenting on this issue, I have confirmed through experimentation that I have an MSG allergy (intense throat irritation followed by bleeding which subsides in a day or two if I eat at some of the restaurants mentioned here, as well as msg-laden packaged soups etc.). I am not going to say that it is bad for everyone since no one else in my family complains when eating the same food. I strongly suspect some of my tooth work (fillings, root canal and crown) is the culprit here since all of this started a couple of weeks after intensive dental work twenty years ago. I can vouch for the fact that the complaints against MSG is not vaporware.

                1. p
                  Peter G Jul 22, 2007 01:01 PM

                  I just want to add my voice to those who defend MSG, a perfectly good seasoning that has been maligned by food hysterics. The "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" book that triggered all this mess has been thoroughly debunked, and everyone who does the research eventually realizes that using MSG in cooking is essentially no different than cooking with salt, vinegar, or sugar. Anti-MSG hysteria is misinformed, and to me has a strong overtone of xenophobia.

                  Glutamic acid is the most common amino acid in dietary protien, so if you are trying to avoid glutamate, you're in big trouble. MSG is simply glutamate bonded with sodium, so it's really no big deal. It's not a preservative, it's not really any more "artificial" than say, sugar. We love glutamic acid because it stimulates our "umami" (savory) taste sensation, and signals the consumption of protien (just like "sweetness" signals sugar, "salty" signals minerals, "sour" signals acids, and "bitter" signals alkaloids.) MSG allows you to add umami/savory flavor without other flavors. Other ways to add umami/savory are the aforementioned kombu, tomatoes, worcestershire, soy sauce, hard cheese, or meat broth. MSG, like salt, sugar, or vinegar, can be used judiciously and artistically, or it can be used with a heavy hand in order to make bad food taste a little better. MSG is a great thing when used by a talented cook.

                  All that said, I discovered when I moved to the South that Chick-fil-a tastes like it is coated in pure MSG. Also, Bill Poundstone reveals in his book Big Secrets that Kentucky Fried Chicken's "11 herbs and spices" are salt, pepper, and MSG.

                  Peter G

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Peter G
                    e
                    ekammin Jul 22, 2007 02:43 PM

                    Ahhh - some common sense amid loads of hysteria. After all, there are very few food components that cannot be used to excess, including salt and sugar.

                    As someone said about "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" - Suppose you went to an Italian restaurant, had a large bowl of spaghetti bolognese, and then found you had lost your appetite. Would you say you had "Italian Restaurant Syndrome"?

                    1. re: Peter G
                      danna Aug 22, 2007 07:54 AM

                      Forgive my chemical ignorance...but how are you sure that when glutamate is simply bonded with sodium that is a non-event? Water is simply oxygen bonded with hydrogen, but their effects on the body are quite different.

                      Agreed on Chick fil a. And I think they have increased that in the last few years. I used to eat their grilled chicken and think it wasn't bad. In the last few years, I find it nearly inedible ...salty and otherwise weird tasting.

                      1. re: danna
                        b
                        Blueicus Aug 22, 2007 09:09 AM

                        MSG is formed by an ionic bond between the metallic sodium atom and the glutamate (similarly to the sodium chloride of table salt) unlike water, which bonds the hydrogen and oxygen in a different way.

                        Ionic bonds, when dissolved in water will cause the molecule to separate into sodium and glutamate ions (again how the NaCl of salt separates into its respective sodium and chlorine atoms when dissolved in water). Sugar, which is not formed by an ionic bond will not do that when dissolved in water. You will also notice how salt water (and presumably MSG water) will conduct electricity while sugar water does not.

                        Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm drawing from my high school chemistry knowledge.

                    2. m
                      missfunkysoul Jul 19, 2007 02:25 PM

                      George Washington brand bouillon. Actually, lots of them probably have it.

                      Big fan of MSG here... I don't buy into the hype.

                      Penzey's Spices sells the pure stuff in granulated form. I am always so tempted to buy some just to play with, but my husband always intervenes...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: missfunkysoul
                        e
                        ekammin Jul 19, 2007 08:01 PM

                        As an example of anti-MSG hysteria, I forgot to mention a chain of take-out Chinese food shops here in Toronto that not only has big "NO MSG" signs in its windows, but advertises that the mere mention of MSG throws its chefs into a frenzy.

                        Somehow, I find this hard to believe, any more than I can picture the chef in an Italian restaurant having a fit because someone said "oregano".

                        1. re: ekammin
                          j
                          julesrules Jul 20, 2007 10:49 AM

                          They have chefs at that chain? Find that even harder to believe :)

                          I'm convinced the rotisserie chickens in grocery stores have MSG. I'm pretty good at identifying when a processed food as MSG, my mother and husband are always checking the ingredients once I make my MSG determination and I'm always right.

                          I don't really have anything against it, but I think some manufacturerers are pretty heavy-handed. It has the typical processed food effect - tastes great if you're starving, or maybe for the first few bites if you're not, but gets boring quickly.

                          1. re: julesrules
                            k
                            kindofabigdeal Jul 21, 2007 11:25 AM

                            Yes, corporate chefs. Haven't you seen the Food Network specials? They work in lab coats and organize focus groups.

                      2. Kajikit Jun 21, 2007 06:52 PM

                        Almost anything savoury and made in a factory... including breakfast sausage, flavoured chips (except plain and sometimes salt-and-vinegar), instant noodles and dehydrated soups, most canned soups and a lot of stocks. Also Country Crock sidedishes, 'spanish' rice (seems to be rice with artificial yellow colouring and msg), and factory-made 'gravy'.
                        More than a little MSG gives me palpitations, and it's a pain in the rear trying to find products without it if I feel like snackfood or something different.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Kajikit
                          porkbutt03 Jul 6, 2007 08:46 AM

                          So why is MSG used so often anyway? Is it also a preservative, or does it just make food taste good?

                          1. re: porkbutt03
                            i
                            itstangy Jul 6, 2007 01:08 PM

                            I think it just adds more flavor to any type of food. It seems as if anything with MSG tastes good to me. But I think the MSG in instant noodle packages and at the take out chinese rest. are the worst.

                            1. re: porkbutt03
                              vorpal Jul 19, 2007 11:26 AM

                              Additionally, MSG allows companies and restaurants to cut back on expensive ingredients by enhancing flavour. I believe, historically, Campbell's was responsible for bringing MSG from Japan to North America when they discovered that they could reduce the amount of chicken needed to make their chicken broths and soups significantly if they added MSG.

                              I strongly look down on MSG usage: I think it's often compensatory for poorly prepared food and just a way to cheap out on quality ingredients. Then again, I can't really eat more than small quantities of MSG because of a health condition I have that is significantly impacted by it.

                              1. re: vorpal
                                e
                                ekammin Jul 19, 2007 01:02 PM

                                What is the deal with MSG anyway? It has been used for centuries in Asia, I recall buying it in Manhattan 40 years ago, as a Japanese product called "Aji-no-moto". I used it sparingly in much Asian food, and nobody ever complained.

                                No doubt, there are people whom it affects adversely. But it sounds to me that one day, some yuppie, following the general yuppie principle of "If it feels bad, do it." decided that all MSG was bad, anywhere. I just wonder . . .

                                1. re: ekammin
                                  Kajikit Jul 19, 2007 01:54 PM

                                  Key word there is 'sparingly'... you might use it sparingly in your own cooking, but the manufacturers of canned foods, snack foods etc. use it with a lavish hand, and in almost everything they make! Add it up and it's a huge amount.

                                  1. re: ekammin
                                    Woodside Al Jul 19, 2007 03:28 PM

                                    MSG, produced by making konbu (kelp) stock or brewed or fermented soy products, has been an essential component of Japanese cuisine, and many other Asian cuisines, for centuries. It is absolutely central to the flavor of authentic Japanese or Chinese food. Like anything else it can be overused, and often is, but I really hate it when friends or relatives drag me to one of these restaurants with the big "no MSG" signs, because I'm absolutely certain that what I'm going to get is bland, inauthentic, Americanized Asian food (that is far too often overly sweet or salty to mask the lack of proper MSG flavor). I've never understood the panic over its use.

                            2. Non Cognomina Jun 21, 2007 05:47 PM

                              Monosodium Glutamate is used as an added ingredient in all sorts of savory packaged dry goods, including chips (Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritoes, Sour Cream and Onion Lay's and Ruffles, and the aforementioned Cheetos), rice cracker snack mix, wasabi peas, Rice-a-Roni, Hamburger Helper, Lawry's seasoning packets (tacos, burritoes, enchiladas), dry soup and dip mixes, etc. It is also found in other packaged foods like Ranch Salad Dressing, French Onion Dip, canned soup (Campbell's Cream of Chicken, Beef Stock, etc), cheese flavored and other crackers, processed cheese products, etc.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Non Cognomina
                                QueenB Jun 22, 2007 07:11 AM

                                Not just processed cheese products, but cheese itself.

                              2. purple goddess Jun 19, 2007 07:29 PM

                                canned shark fin soup.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: purple goddess
                                  Gio Jun 21, 2007 05:48 PM

                                  Asparagus, tomatoes, cheese, meat, fish sauce.
                                  Here's a link to a site that delineates the extent of MSG in our foods.

                                  http://www.glutamate.org/media/Nutrit...

                                2. c
                                  CrazyOne Jun 19, 2007 01:42 PM

                                  Emerald nuts. That's the one that really bugged me. Fooled me once but never again. Why do nuts need MSG anyway?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: CrazyOne
                                    souvenir kattunge Jun 19, 2007 07:14 PM

                                    they are flavoured nuts... usually MSG is the "flavouring"...

                                    1. re: CrazyOne
                                      maria lorraine Jun 19, 2007 10:05 PM

                                      The nuts naturally have glutamate, and nuts need salt so they add glutamate salt, or MSG,

                                    2. Ruth Lafler Jun 19, 2007 09:59 AM

                                      If you think you're "MSG sensitive," you might be surprised at what contains MSG.

                                      From http://www.msgfacts.com/lookatfacts.h...

                                      "Is the glutamate in MSG the same as the glutamate in Parmesan cheese or mushrooms?
                                      It does not matter whether you select glutamate-rich foods and ingredients, like tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, MSG, or soy sauce; the glutamate in each is the same. Medical specialists have known for decades that your body does not distinguish between the glutamate found naturally in foods and that in MSG. In fact, even today’s state-of-the-art technology can’t separate them. For example, if you analyzed a plate of spaghetti you could identify the total amount of glutamate in the dish. However, there is no way to determine whether the glutamate came from tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, or MSG."

                                      Parmesan cheese has more free glutamates per mg/ml than soy sauce.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                        m
                                        mojoeater Jun 19, 2007 11:10 AM

                                        And the companies that package many of these things are not required to list glutamate as an ingredient as it is naturally occuring and not an additive.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                          maria lorraine Jun 19, 2007 10:03 PM

                                          We *love* the flavor of glutamate -- it's UMAMI, that round, full "grounding" flavor of mushrooms, Parmagiano Reggiano, other cheeses, meat, tomatoes. Glutamate isn't bad.

                                          MSG is the sodium salt of gluamate. It's gotten an undeservedly bad rap over the years, especially when we consider all the foods with glutamate (umami) that we don't, uh, react to.

                                          Please read the respected International Food Information Council's brochures on the facts of MSG and glutamate, found online at:
                                          "Everything You Need to Know About Glutamate and Monosodium Glutamate" -- IFIC
                                          http://www.ific.org/publications/brochures/upload/Everything-You-Need-To-Know-About-Glutamate-And-Monosodium-Glutamate.pdf
                                          "Examining the Myths" -- IFIC
                                          http://www.ific.org/publications/revi...

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                            c
                                            Chef D Quizzing Jun 21, 2007 06:00 PM

                                            The weblink above is proffered by The Glutamate Association, who's members have included Ajinomoto, Archer Daniels Midland, Campbell, Corn Products Corporation, McCormick & Company, Pet Foods, Pfizer Laboratories, and Takeda. These companies make and sell products with lots of MSG. Research studies funded by this group are designed to yield results that will support the claim that MSG is not harmful. For example, my Aunt applied to be a participant in an MSG study, but after a screening test, including a blood sample to test for food allergies, she was told that she did not qualify. The only food allergy revealed in the bloodwork: MSG.

                                            http://www.truthinlabeling.org/WhoRun...

                                            1. re: Chef D Quizzing
                                              maria lorraine Jun 21, 2007 08:05 PM

                                              No. This is not correct.

                                              Both links refer to the independent IFIC (International Food Information Council) brochures on MSG and glutamic acid. The medical and scientific studies cited are double-blind; the milligram measurements of bound glutamate and free glutamate come from the Institute of Food Technologists.

                                              Please check your sources, Chef D Quizzing. You may be confusing IFIC with IGTC, the International Glutamate Technical Committee, which is certainly an industry organization with an agenda to promote and mentioned in the link you cite.

                                              With regard to your aunt, "MSG is not an allergen, according to the American College of
                                              Allergy, Asthma and Immunology." So an monosodium glutamate allergy would not show up on any blood test. Your aunt may have a sensitivity to glutamates, but then she would also have great difficulty eating chicken, duck, beef, pork, fish, cheese, peas, corn and tomatoes, none of which have any added monosodium glutamate.

                                              1. re: Chef D Quizzing
                                                QueenB Jun 22, 2007 07:36 AM

                                                MSG is not a known allergen and does not cause an Ig-E (AKA allergic) reaction. This has been shown in many double-blind studies by groups of, for lack of a better word, "non-partisan" scientists. These studies have been published in many scientific journals, around the world, including the Journal of Nutrition, Annals of Surgery, Lancet and Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
                                                I certainly hope your aunt never needs to be hospitalized with an IV, because they put glutamate (what MSG is broken down as) in many IVs, considering it is an essential amino acid. She probably is also allergic to many other foods, as marialorraine states, including most meats and cheeses.

                                              2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                m
                                                melly Mar 3, 2008 07:13 PM

                                                Then I wonder why it is that I used to get horrid headaches and stomach cramps after I ate something with MSG in it? Someone alerted me to allergic reactions to MSG. When I stopped, I no longer have these issues. I used to spend 30 minutes in the bathroom after eating chinese food..and I wasn't out of the restaurant yet.

                                                1. re: melly
                                                  jgg13 Mar 4, 2008 09:55 AM

                                                  Because you're having to a reaction to something else.

                                                  Read through this thread - if you don't have problems with all of these other products, you can be sure its not MSG.

                                                  1. re: melly
                                                    Miss Needle Mar 4, 2008 09:59 AM

                                                    There was another MSG thread floating around somewhere. It may have gotten deleted. But there are people who are fine with naturally occurring glutamates (as in tomatoes, etc) but have issues with the by-products produced from man-made MSG. My ex-boyfriend was one of these people. He was fine with products like soy sauce, but when he ate things with added MSG, he would get headaches and sensations like he had to close his eyes.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                                      jgg13 Mar 4, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                      I'm fairly skeptical about MSG claims, but where I get *really* skeptical (and this is more about what melly said, not you) is when people point the finger squarely at "chinese food". It is really hard to avoid MSG (and nearly impossible to avoid glutamate), so people who say things like "I stopped eating chinese food and got better" clearly have other issues going on.

                                                2. septocaine_queen Jun 18, 2007 10:41 PM

                                                  flavor....I am illiterate today

                                                  1. septocaine_queen Jun 18, 2007 10:40 PM

                                                    remember Accent? The "favor enhancer" was just 100% MSG

                                                    1. l
                                                      Louise Jun 18, 2007 10:24 PM

                                                      For more fun, look for 'hydrolized yeast protein'. A different alias for our culprit.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Louise
                                                        m
                                                        mojoeater Jun 18, 2007 10:27 PM

                                                        Check out this list of alternative sources of MSG: http://www.carbohydrateaddicts.com/ms...

                                                      2. m
                                                        mojoeater Jun 18, 2007 09:48 PM

                                                        Pretty much all soy sauce and bean curd.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: mojoeater
                                                          Non Cognomina Jun 21, 2007 05:30 PM

                                                          Kikkoman has no MSG.

                                                          1. re: Non Cognomina
                                                            m
                                                            mojoeater Jun 21, 2007 05:49 PM

                                                            MSG is a combo of sodium and glutamate ions that are naturally occurring in fermented soy products (and lots of other stuff). A company is not required to list MSG as an ingredient if it is a byproduct of natural production. From the Kikkoman website:

                                                            "Soy sauce is a flavor enhancer primarily because of its amino acid content. Many amino acids have been identified both as flavor potentiators and umami contributors -- most notably, glutamic acid...[which] may work synergistically with salt to produce an enhancing effect, according to one researcher. Soy sauce, as previously discussed, has plenty of both."

                                                            1. re: mojoeater
                                                              k
                                                              kindofabigdeal Jul 7, 2007 05:43 AM

                                                              my kikkoman better have msg

                                                        2. souvenir kattunge Jun 18, 2007 09:42 PM

                                                          instant noodles!

                                                          Show Hidden Posts