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Nov 2, 2010 11:35 AM

MSG and ramen: Particularly high levels or no?

The topic of MSG in ramen broth has come up here a number of times, but upon doing a bit of research, I see that MSG is a very common food additive used in many snack foods, sauces, soups, and canned foods. This being the case, for an average adult that doesn't really pay too much attention to what they eat (and doesn't actively avoid MSG), is the level of MSG in ramen broth notably higher than other dishes?

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  1. " ... is the level of MSG in ramen broth notably higher than other dishes?"

    In what other dishes? KFC Fried chicken? A bag of Doritos? Salad with ranch dressing and garlic croutons? Or, an apple?

    In other words, we need more specific dishes you are referring to in order to give you a proper comparison. Also, ramen broths will differ in how much (if any) MSG (either added, or naturally occuring) it contains.

    And why are you avoiding MSG in the first place?

    5 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I'm planning to cook a refrigerated "nama ramen" pack and my wife has some concerns about me sharing it with my 2 year old daughter because of MSG in the included soup packet. If this concern is legit, then would making my own broth from pork, chicken, and kombu be "safer"?

      1. re: Eating Face

        There couldn't be more than a shake(like.a salt shaker) of MSG in that soup packet. A two year old should have no problem.

        1. re: monku

          I grew up eating Ramen. My grandma made it, and my sister and I called it "curly noodle soup" when we were younger. No problems from having it. I probably have eaten worse stuff for me at some point.

        2. re: Eating Face

          What else do you feed your 2 year old daughter?

          I ask because this will determine whether the MSG in the soup packet will be an issue? Ever take her to McDonald's? KFC? I mean, seriously, have you ever fed her barbecue sauce or bottled salad dressings, both of which are high in MSG and probably much higher than the MSG found in a prepared ramen seasoning packet. LIkewise with seasoned potato or tortilla chips.

          Long winded way of saying that MSG is more prevalent in common foods that you might eat everyday without even thinking about MSG than you might think.

          But lke monku, I agree. This should not be an issue for your daughter.

          1. re: Eating Face

            i wouldn't worry about it. MSG occurs naturally anyway. i also say your 2 yr old will be ok. i grew up in tokyo in the 70's when we used ajinomoto in a salt shaker at the dinner table. we've been eating ramen forever and we're all still alive and healthy, even my mom who is 75. i would worry more about how healthy it is and if you're really concerned you should make your own broth which will probably be more delicious than the packets.

        3. In a package of Chicken Flavor Cup Noodles you should probably be more concerned with the sodium(1170mg) and the third ingredient listed. MSG is listed as the 7th ingredient after "Dried Green Pea".

          1 Reply
          1. re: monku

            I'm guessing the OP is talking about packaged, instant ramen, but rather the stuff you get from restaurants.

          2. I buy the ramen noodle soup in the 3 ounce packages, and I discard the flavor packets. I create my own flavoring for the soup in which I use the noodles. These noodles accompany extra firm tofu in my soup that is made with aromatic vegetables and extremely pungent chiles.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude

              I've read many posts similar to yours, and I've always wondered - why don't you just buy noodles instead of an instant ramen "kit"? What's the point of buying something that you intend to throw away?

              1. re: small h

                Mr. Mojo buys ramen and throws away the seasoning packets. He cannot get the same noodles in any other form, and loves those noodles in our homemade soups.

                1. re: mojoeater

                  I may be spoiled by my proximity to a large number of Asian markets - I don't think there's a kind of noodle I can't find somewhere around here. And those skinny Cantonese egg noodles are practically instant.

            2. MSG is a worth avoiding but recently learned that many oriental foods like soy and fish sauces
              have very high levels of histamines. One article mentioned scombroid poisoning which has the
              typical msg symptoms face flushing shorthness of breath ect. There is lots of info on the net
              about biogenic amines. Perhaps msg gets the bum wrap when the real problem is histamines. In my
              case I had to greatly curtail my outings to Korean ,Chinese and Vietanese Restaurants.

              10 Replies
                1. re: thew

                  ... time to buzz the hornet's nest, eh?

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    absolutist statements sometimes make me itch

                    1. re: thew

                      You should take an anti-histamine for that!

                2. re: smiling ed

                  What do you mean there are "histamines" in "oriental" foods? According to the definition, "histamine" is a chemical released by the body in response to an allergen. How can it be in food, and how can there be more than one?

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Well, to be fair there are four different histamine receptors (H1 to H4) so maybe that's what "smiling ed" was referring to?

                    But I'm more curious where I can buy a bottle of histamine. Somtimes I need me some histamine without having to extract it from all those "oriental foods like soy and fish sauces" ...

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Ed was probably referring to histamine fish poisoning (or scromboid fish poisoning). Rotting fish will contain very high levels of histamine, produced by bacterial conversion of the amino acid histidine. It is one of the most common fish related food toxicities.

                        1. re: kmcarr

                          re kmcarr yes I had in mind the amines in general caused by bacterial conversion of
                          amino acids. the level of amines produced is very dependent on the strain of bacteria
                          prevelent. I understand pedioccus is a spoilage bacteria while lactic acid bacteria less
                          so. By proper food preparation the amine levels can be kept at low safe levels. All fermented
                          foods and beverages have some levels of amines. In my case I must avoid soy sauces
                          which is semi tragic because we have some of the best chinese and korean restauants
                          here in LA.