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Preview: Comments on: Me So Gourmet

Comments on: Me So Gourmet



Comments on MetaFilter post Me So Gourmet



Published: Sun, 10 Jul 2005 03:08:12 -0800

Last Build Date: Sun, 10 Jul 2005 03:08:12 -0800

 



Me So Gourmet

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 02:54:33 -0800

"If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?" A brief history of and exploration some myths and facts surrounding MSG, glutamate (its natural expression) and umami - 'the fifth taste'. "We now know that glutamate is present in almost every food stuff, and that the protein is so vital to our functioning that our own bodies produce 40 grams of it a day. Probably the most significant discovery in explaining human interest in umami is that human milk contains large amounts of glutamate (at about 10 times the levels present in cow's milk). [...] Which means mothers' milk and a packet of cheese'n'onion crisps have rather more in common than you'd think."



By: RavinDave

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 03:08:12 -0800

I've always been puzzled by (pseudo-)oriental restaurants that advertise "NO MSG" as if it were a virtue.



By: Malor

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 03:46:34 -0800

This article is just wrong. I'm terribly sensitive to MSG, probably brought about by aspartame poisoning. (at one time, I was so sick that I was being tested for MS... turned out it was aspartame. When I stopped the Diet Coke, I immediately started to get better... it has taken several YEARS for me to feel fairly normal again) I remain ridiculously sensitive to MSG. Small amounts of it give me blurred vision. Large amounts bring back lesser versions of the MS-like symptoms...mental fuzz, lack of coordination, inability to concentrate, random twitchiness, mild auditory hallucinations, and even heart palpitations if the dose is very high. A bowl of Top Ramen will make me desperately sick for days. It probably isn't that dreadful for most people, but it is in EVERYTHING. That's not because it's naturally there, but because it's added to nearly every packaged food. FDA rules state that only 90% pure monosodium glutamate is officially MSG and must be labeled that way, so companies come up with all kinds of ways of producing it that result in an 89% or less concentration. Any -lyzed protein is MSG... you will very commonly, for instance, see "hydrolyzed soy protein" or corn protein. That's MSG. "Natural Flavors" is the catch-all that's usually used to hide it. "Modified Food Starch", "Yeast Extract" and "Yeast Nutrients" are all MSG. Others: "milk protein", "autolyzed yeast", "pea protein" (if they were just putting in peas, they'd say peas, not 'pea protein'). There are a LOT of other ways, as well. There are a number of good lists on the net.. do a combination search on two or three of the above and you're almost certain to find one. You will very often see several of these in one package.. by listing it separately, they can hide the stuff down at the bottom of the list (you know, where they always say 'contains 2% or less of.....' like that matters. 2% cyanide would still kill you.) It's hard even in a HEALTH FOOD store to get food that's truly MSG-free. It *is* a neurotoxin. It is probably low enough toxicity that most people don't notice it. But it is still killing brain cells. I have been wondering for the last couple of years if the profound rise in autism in this country might not be related to the constant barrage of MSG in nearly every food. It can't be good for kids to be getting three slammings of even a mild neurotoxin every day. That's pretty much what happens, unless you cook from scratch. It is in EVERYTHING, and takes a great deal of effort to avoid.



By: spazzm

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:27:20 -0800

I like MSG. One alleged neurotoxin more or less won't kill me. Anyhooo, off the top of my head I seem to remember that the thing about MSG is that while natural glutamate is (like almost all amino-acids on Earth with a biological origin) left-handed , the artificial glutamate in MSG contains equal parts left- and right-handed glutamate. Since humans have only left-handed molecules we can't digest half of the MSG, which can allegedly give side-effects. Is this correct, or has the MSG already destroyed my brain?



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:29:46 -0800

I have been wondering for the last couple of years if the profound rise in autism in this country might not be related to the constant barrage of MSG in nearly every food. LOL. Typcial unfounded nutty conspiracy theory. You sure it isn't the vaccines, or the radiation from your cell phone, or space aliens? Give me a fucking break. The FDA has thoroughly studied MSG and declared it to be safe. Yeah, yeah, you'll probably tell me that the FDA is in league with a secret cabal of companies and space aliens in a vast evil conspiracy to make Americans stupid by poisoning them with MSG.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:30:47 -0800

This article is just wrong. I'm terribly sensitive to MSG, ... Yes, one anecdote disproves a plethora of scientific studies. Why don't you go start your own little anti-MSG cult?



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:36:45 -0800

The conspiracy theorist here seems to believe in "aspartame poisoining" too, another wacky conspiracy theory. I'm not discounting the fact that he may be, in fact, sensitive to some chemical, or something else (although it's highly unlikely). But anecdotes do not make a science. It's too bad that a perfectly healthy salt or sugar substitute has to be given a bad name because of crazy ignorant nuts. Reminds me of the furor over food irradition because, you know, all radiation is evil and will kill you.



By: nostrada

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:41:30 -0800

Thanks for the interesting article!



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:44:28 -0800

Interesting article. Thanks for the link Blue Stone. My guess would be that many of the foods in which MSG is added (particularly the prepackaged variety) also contained a number of colouring enhancers and preservatives +/- other things such as shellfish or peanuts (mentioned by the article) which, in addition to psychosomatic disorders of course, could account for some or many of any real symptoms associated with eating where MSG is involved. But MSG has been abandoned for serious study by the science community and all western governments have decreed it safe. Like everything no doubt moderation is called for. It holds a unique place in the viral meme bibliography it seems.



By: srboisvert

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:48:23 -0800

Malor, given your sensitivity to things that are consumed by the vast majority of the population with absolutely no side effects. Perhaps you have some other underlying problem that renders you more sensitive to things and you really shouldn't extrapolate from your special case to the general population. Do a pub med search on Aspartame - it is one of the most heavily studied additives and shows little or no harmful effects. I would never make claims about the harmful naure of Pollen even though my allergies can be quite disabling because I recognize that the problem is



By: srboisvert

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:50:32 -0800

oops naur = nature and finish with: within me. damn pollen is interfering with my proofreading



By: kush

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:51:07 -0800

It is in EVERYTHING, and takes a great deal of effort to avoid. Especially considering that your body manufacture large amount of that specific amino acid so you can actually build protein chains and, humm, I donno, be alive. Be sure to avoid beer, bread and well, eating anything other than rock, so the crazy neurotoxin lil communist buggers stay away. Is that scientology propaganda btw? It sure smell like it. Love the fact you mention autism too, neat freudian slip, 'splain alot.



By: TedW

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 04:56:29 -0800

Interesting article; I have been trying to convince people of this for years. I constantly hear people order chinese food sans MSG, but these same people will admit they used to love the signature salad at a now defunct local restaurant. It just so happens that one of my first jobs was at that restaurant and among my duties was prepping the salads. What was the secret ingredient? A heaping spoonful of MSG! Of course when I point this out people nod their heads and go on about how bad MSG is; irrational beliefs are almost impossible to dislodge.



By: caddis

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 05:00:24 -0800

I think I feel an MSG headache coming on.



By: sriracha

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 05:56:34 -0800

This article sounds like rehash of Jeffrey Steingarten's essay on MSG, published in his book "It Must Have Been Something I Ate". In a similar vein, another essay in that book addresses fear of salt, and another deals with the US gov't's silly restriction on young raw-milk cheese. I expect that there are some people who are highly sensitive to MSG or salt, but the vast majority of the population has no problem consuming reasonable levels of these chemicals. For most of the population, these chemicals aren't as bad as their current reputation suggests.



By: alexwoods

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:02:18 -0800

Jeffery Steingarten, the food writer for Vogue and one of Western Civilzation's greatest living minds, wrote an article with a remarkably similar title ("Why doesn't everybody in China have a headache?") and a lot of similar observations, plus some more, that was published in Vogue in March '99 and then in his book It Must've Been Something I Ate. The rest of the book is just as good; highly recommended if you're into food or have a sense of humor. On preview - sriracha you beat me to it!



By: George_Spiggott

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:08:03 -0800

Hey aerify -- think you could say "conspiracy theory", or use words like "nutty", "crazy" and its cognates a few more times? I have no dog in this race but it's pretty obvious that you've your own axe to grind, and if there's flawed data or reasoning here you're not exactly countering it with anything more rational. In fact you do your opponents a courtesy by making setting up an irrationaly abusive contrast, implying that the principal counterargument to their position is spittle-flecked demonization. If there's bad information going around your kind of response isn't going to combat it.



By: furtive

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:09:04 -0800

Umami rocks! I figured it out as a kid when I fell in love with things like chicken noodle soup and hot & sour soup, and was so rewareded years later when I found out it wasn't just me, but entire civilisations that had caught on.



By: furtive

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:25:04 -0800

To paraphrase Dave Foley: MSG, just like religion, is a form of mass psychosis.



By: bashos_frog

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:36:05 -0800

In the port city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, there is a museum devoted entirely to noodle soup. This is one of my most favorite places. I am missing it sorely. The curry museum is good, too.



By: kirkaracha

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:38:35 -0800

Glutamate is supposed to satisfy our taste for "umami" ("savory" or "deliciousness"), but Marmite "has more glutamate in it than any other manufactured product on the planet," and I wouldn't call Marmite delicious.



By: FieldingGoodney

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 06:56:22 -0800

Here's a counter-example. Many Asians have a very low tolerance to alcohol - I guess they could say something similar - "westerners don't get red-faced and incredibly sleepy after one sip of beer, therefore no problem with beer".



By: bashos_frog

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 07:35:52 -0800

But, but - there is no problem with beer.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:05:40 -0800

George_Spiggott: No amount of evidence and rationality can convince these people that substance X or mainstream medical practice Y is not killing them and everybody they hold dear. Whether it's MSG, magnetic fields, power lines, sugar substitutes, fluoride, it doesn't matter. We live in a very litigious culture and any threat to our health, read or imagined, will find some way to be made into a mass hysteria. I don't believe that countering this sort of irrational fear with evidence helps. Their beliefs are a religion in and of themselves, and no number of scientific studies are going to change their emotions. These people are best ignored, or laughed at.



By: McGuillicuddy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:10:05 -0800

The FDA has thoroughly studied MSG and declared it to be safe. Well, that proves it. Or maybe it's time for your Vioxx, Fen-Phen and a cigarette, other drugs the FDA studied and declared perfectly safe at one time. Yeah, yeah, you'll probably tell me that the FDA is in league with a secret cabal of companies... How ridiculous! How absurd! What reputable source would claim politics (or profit) could sway the honorable scientists at the FDA? Well for one, the New England Journal of Medicine did just that in April 2004. Why those little NEJM anit-science freaks...



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:21:55 -0800

So McGuillicuddy, what are you saying about MSG? Or should we just read from your comment a refutation of the suggestion that the FDA is not influenced by politics?



By: InnocentBystander

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:30:03 -0800

Oh for the love of Christ, these things are NOT contradictory, people! Or are you going to argue that because the vast majority of people can consume them without trouble, say, Peanut Allergies are just a figment of peoples' imaginations? Or that no one has ever REALLY had their bowels upset by Olestra products? I'm very mildly sensitive to MSG myself. I'm OK eating just about everywhere except KFC, which gives me a headache without fail. It is entirely possible for a product to be safe for the general population, but affect a statistical few adversely. And I agree with one major point here: the ways of sneaking MSG into food products are far too many and varied. That SHOULD be regulated, for the sake of those who are allergic \ sensitive. Just like peanuts and most other food allergens.



By: Baby_Balrog

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:30:20 -0800

Aerify - your triple posted response did nothing to support your jack-booted allegiance to ...the FDA?? Do you work for an MSG company? "We live in a very litigious culture and any threat to our health, read or imagined, will find some way to be made into a mass hysteria...These people are best ignored, or laughed at." You are a dangerously, willfully ignorant person. "On March 22, 2004 the agency issued a warning advisory about antidepressant drug risks only after it was learned that senior FDA officials had suppressed the release of an analysis by FDA's leading expert. That report, by Dr. Andrew Mosholder, validates the safety concerns and the unfavorable risk / benefit ratio of antidepressants for children." And as for aspartame (and this should be obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry): Here's a legitimate study Another, more forceful study There's plenty of evidence out there. When did big pharma come to your house and convince you that the FDA is protecting your rights? Malor is right to be afraid, and if he has an adverse response to the chemicals food manufacturers put in his foods, he has a right to take his complaint to the FDA and the public and not be shunned by arrogant potato chip lobbyists like yourself. and peacay - though I know responding to your posts is an invitation to unleash the troll in you - Aerify's comments are not about MSG, they're a broad defense of the FDA - specifically, by attacking individuals who question the safety of the products the government tells us are harmless.



By: Samizdata

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:32:37 -0800

Well, I must say I have noticed a very mild reaction to foods high in MSG in myself. Or, rather, my wife did. Whenever I eat high MSG foods, I tend to increase my fluid intake accordingly, so she tends to use me as a barometer, mostly for amusement purposes. Now, I have wondered if this is possibly due, however, due to my very low use of added sodium as a sop to congenital hypertension. On the other hand, umani rocks!



By: five fresh fish

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:33:01 -0800

Thank you for that well-worded advice, George. Much better than I'd have done.



By: Samizdata

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:35:42 -0800

Erm, make that umami...



By: nickyskye

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:37:35 -0800

Nicely said Baby_Balrog. Interesting article BlueStone. Umami is such an excellent word to know. It's got me thinking about the hard-wiring of choosing savoury foods, since it's it's part of a human infant's attraction to milk, not just the sweetness but also the savouriness. Although I've loved Ramen noodles for decades, like Malor I've felt uncomfortable after eating food with MSG, long before I knew what MSG was. Having lived in India for a decade I can say that different cultures have different food tolerances, like FieldingGoodney says about the Asian low tolerance for alcohol. Even while being mostly vegetarian in India I could still drink a considerable amount of whiskey neat and just get a buzz but my Indian friends (unless they were of the hard-drinking Indian Army kind) would literally fall over with a quarter of that amount. The intensity of South Indian seasoning is unbearable and leaves me feeling ill for example but is eaten daily and happily by hundreds of millions of people. Food preferences are very varied and many people literally cannot stomach other culture's tastes. Although I have Scottish blood in me I don't think I could hack eating haggis: Traditional Haggis 1 sheep's pluck (stomach bag) 2 lb.. dry oatmeal 1 lb. suet 1 lb. lamb's liver 2 1/2 cups stock 1 large chopped onion 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, Jamaica pepper and salt Of course I do understand this isn't about food preferences but about MSG being technically unhealthy or not. My point is that one man's meat may literally be another man's poison. This may be genetic preferences, food allergies, a number of reasons. There are plenty of people with celiac who can be killed by eating oatmeal or food with gluten. I don't know many Europeans or Americans who can eat West African fufu or who could drink cow blood daily, like the Masai have done for millennia. I think it's valid some people may be sensitive/allergic to MSG and some not.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:38:53 -0800

I certainly would trust the FDA more so than these fringe groups. Remember, even the drugs that were pulled from the market had to pass a rigorous battery of tests to prove their safety and efficacy. As for the anti-depressant warnings, I mean, wow. Antidepressants are overwhelmingly safe and effective and pretty much every major study done on them shows that they are underprescribed. The suicide risk is a VERY minor issue and when you consider the number of suicides committed by seriously depressed people, it seems that we are being way too cautious. Besides, how do you determine whether the suicide was caused by the depression or the antidepressant? There's a theory that says the antidepressant gives a sort of boost of energy that's not enough to counter the depression but enough to allow the person to go through with the suicidal act. It's strange to blame the cure for the disease.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:40:54 -0800

As for the aspartame, again, like MSG, countless studies have shown they are basically like any other additive flavoring - harmless. I'm not saying some people don't have allergies, or unexplained reactions - many many people have adverse reactions to all sorts of otherwise harmless substances. But to say that there's some sort of conspiracy by the food companies or the FDA to poison us... jesus, these people eat the same food we do. It's 90% conspiracy theory riding on 10% gut feeling.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:42:31 -0800

You are a dangerously, willfully ignorant person. Er... there's a difference between being aware of actual, real health risks that can be scientifically and causally determined, and the rantings of the fringe groups that claim a widely-produced, widely-consumed product that millions of people eat everyday is "eating holes into my brain". Do you see the difference?



By: McGuillicuddy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:43:44 -0800

Peacay - I'm saying that believing MSG is safe because the FDA didn't find otherwise is similar to believing that Iraq was involved in 9/11 because Dick Cheney said so. Why would the Vice-President lie about that again and again? It is foolish to believe the FDA is not always lobbied hardest by those with a financial stake in the matter. It is not unlikely that the FDA management is/was considering a cost/benefit scenario in examining MSG, weighing health effects against the huge cost to processed food corporations should MSG be deemed a substance best avoided. In the meantime, I'll flavor my organic meals with natural spices, and forego MSG when possible.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:48:10 -0800

In the meantime, I'll flavor my organic meals with natural spices, and forego MSG when possible. Heh. You do realize MSG is just as "natural" as those spices, right? Did you RTFA? What does chiefly animate Japanese soups and broths is an amino acid called glutamate. In the best ramen shops it's made naturally from boiling dried kombu seaweed; it can also come from dried shrimp or bonito flakes, or from fermented soy. More cheaply and easily, you get it from a tin, where it is stabilised with ordinary salt and is thus monosodium glutamate.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:49:22 -0800

I'll flavor my organic meals with natural spices, Right, as opposed to the inorganic rocks and dirt we other, less conscious people eat.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:50:52 -0800

I'm saying that believing MSG is safe because the FDA didn't find otherwise is similar to believing that Iraq was involved in 9/11 because Dick Cheney said so. It's not just the FDA. Universities and independent laboratories also conduct these sorts of tests.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:57:10 -0800

I hate to keep posting again and again (I should just say everything in one post) but McGuillicuddy brings up another issue - everybody loves to talk about "natural flavoring" and "natural spices" as though natural things are unhealthy and "unnatural" foods are not. This is total crock. Often "artificial" flavorings synthesized in a lab are much safer than the same chemical created "naturally" because the natural extract will always contain impurities (sometimes harmless, sometimes toxic). Why is it that people think science/chemistry/lab = bad/evil/unhealthy? Is this a pop cultural thing? We don't trust the men in white coats. All I'm saying is that MSG and aspartame is as likely to kill you as salt or baking powder or flour or dust.



By: StickyCarpet

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 08:57:55 -0800

I have friends at a lab that studied MSG uses and effects. What they found was that a little makes the food taste better, adding more after that doesn't have much effect. Cooks often season food by, for instance, adding more salt until its too salty and then backing off from there. If you try this with MSG you will end up using huge amounts with no benefit. So I just add a tiny pinch. Also I make a clear broth from Parmesean and add a bit where you might add MSG.



By: Baby_Balrog

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:00:29 -0800

"countless studies have shown they are basically like any other additive flavoring - harmless." Please cite your sources. "the rantings of the fringe groups that claim a widely-produced, widely-consumed product that millions of people eat everyday is "eating holes into my brain". Replace "brain" with "lungs" and you have: *drumroll* The American Cancer Society! Nobody is saying the FDA is trying to poison us - that would be far too obvious. Some people are arguing that your health is not the top priority of this massive, frequently mistaken government organization. But, then again, maybe there are WMDs in the Iraqi desert. I mean, why would the government lie to us? On preview: You really need to condense your comments into one post. This four posts in a row bs won't fly.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:06:51 -0800

Thanks for bringing up WMD - a completely irrevelant comparison. This isn't politics, this is science. Dude, do a pubmed or lexis-nexis search on aspartame or MSG. Because of the public hysteria over it it's been studied to the ground. This is not about what the "government" or "FDA" is telling us. It's about what the large body of scientific work conducted by impartial researchers across the globe is saying is fact.



By: clevershark

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:07:33 -0800

"If MSG is so bad for you, why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache?" Maybe they do, and they're just not telling us... they're very crafty you know.



By: McGuillicuddy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:08:51 -0800

Petroleum is naturally occuring too but I won't be using gasoline to spice my cappuccino this morning. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried seaweed are natural spices, monosodium glutamate is neither naturally occurring nor a natural spice. Some people are arguing that your health is not the top priority of this massive, frequently mistaken government organization. Exactly.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:16:53 -0800

Right, and certain "natural" spices are actually toxic in large doses, just like some artificial flavorings. What's your point? MSG is the EXACT SAME CHEMICAL that you can extract from dried seaweed. Is seaweed not natural to you? Did you even RTFA? It doesn't matter what is natural and what's not. The point is it's just as safe as regular SALT or BAKING POWDER.



By: missbossy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:19:58 -0800

OK then... so what is giving me these f#cking headaches after I eat cantonese food?



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:20:28 -0800

Let me say this again: glutamate is a NATURALLY OCCURING SUBSTANCE, our body fucking makes it, it's found in a bunch of protein-rich foods. Not only that, it's well-established OVER AND OVER in many studies (government AND independently funded) that it's perfectly safe. This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about earlier. No amount of reason will convince these people that these food additives are like any other food we eat every day. Your comparisons to cigarettes or gasoline (WTF?) make absolutely no sense.



By: StickyCarpet

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:21:24 -0800

At the college cafeteria kitchen the MSG came in 55 gallon barrels. When I asked the chef why he needed so much he said: "because it makes the food taste like the food."



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:24:16 -0800

OK then... so what is giving me these f#cking headaches after I eat cantonese food? I don't know; go talk to your doctor. Maybe it's MSG, maybe it's stress, maybe it's something else. Goddammit, anecdotes don't make a science. So some people think they feel worse after eating Chinese food? WTF? You do realize there's MSG in almost everything else you're eating, right? Unless there's some sort of scientific, controlled experiment, you can't draw conclusions like that. But I guess that's not going to stop these crowd of MSG-hating lunatics from blaming the evil FDA for killing us all.



By: meehawl

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:24:34 -0800

It *is* a neurotoxin. Chillis contain capsaicin ((E)-N-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl)- 8-methylnon-6-enamide), a proven, extraordinarily potent neurotoxin. In high doses it is used as a chemical weapon. Do you also avoid all spicy foods?



By: clevershark

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:25:57 -0800

It really is remarkable how people only seem to be allergic to the MSG in Chinese food when it is in fact present in a wide range of prepared foods.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:26:43 -0800

Yeah, you can never discount racism as a factor. "Goddamn yellow Chinese puttin' weird shit in our food!"



By: caddis

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:27:26 -0800

I definitely have that MSG headache now.



By: dobbs

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:29:13 -0800

McLusky's Without MSG I Am Nothing {mp3}



By: clevershark

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:32:17 -0800

aerify writes "Yeah, you can never discount racism as a factor." Actually I think it's more because people have been told that MSG can cause headaches, and that Chinese food usually contains MSG. It's pretty stupid, but then you'd be surprised at the number of people who will tell you that a well-known urban legend happened to them or to someone they know. It may have more to do with an unconscious desire to belong to society at large than it does with having a reaction to MSG. The other funny thing about this is that people will be adamant that this happens every time they go to a Chinese restaurant. Why do they keep going then?



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:32:55 -0800

Baby_Balrog writes "and peacay - though I know responding to your posts is an invitation to unleash the troll in you" Well that's really unwarranted and pretty offensive. I don't believe I post much in that manner if at all. Yeah yeah, trawl my history...prove me wrong. Aaaaaanyway....interesting is the depth of feeling out there on this subject not to mention that as far as I can tell there's pretty well a lack of scientific citing on MSG in this thread - and indeed in the article. For either side really. I'm still of the opinion that many untoward reactions people may have experienced after eating foodstuffs are most likely related to flavours/enhancers/peanuts/shellfish/other notable allergens. That's just my opinion of course. I suppose it's logically supported by the notion that glu is an amino acid that we ingest in many foods, usually without reaction. But it's not just the FDA. The article mentioned a bunch of other western governments who had given MSG a clean bill of health (paraphrasing). And prior to this thread commencing, if I had thought about MSG at all, it was probably in the context that yes, it's not necessarily that good a product and I've been a first hand witness to a fatal asthma attack, said to be due to Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. So I guess I'm still open minded. But can we have some science, if people have some reasonable sources to contribute? Oh and thanks Mcuillicuddy for answering my query - I was just clarifying.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:38:19 -0800

The real issue isn't about MSG or aspartame specifically. It has to do more with a misplaced fear due to a lack of understanding of what we're eating and why. We also seem to have a cultured distrust of consuming anything "artificial". Never mind that food additives have to be put through huge numbers of safety tests that "natural" foods don't, even though you're probably getting more toxins and impurities from the "natural" food compared with the additives (a very small portion of whatever we're eating). In the end, it's really about ignorance and these alternative fringe groups (sometimes environmental) whipping up public frenzy over an issue people don't really understand.



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:41:04 -0800

The wiki article has some basic facts and generally reflects the Observer article. Anecdotally, in Asia I found many many restaurants that advertized "No MSG" either on the shop wall, menu or spoken by the waitstaff -- responding to western desires of course; going hand-in-hand with the now ubiquitous "eco-tourism" shtick.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:45:25 -0800

From Wikipedia: MSG is found naturally in seaweed and fermented soy products, and especially yeast extracts. Smaller quantities are also present in tomatoes, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. If that doesn't satisfy Mr. Organic and Natural Spice Only, well, I don't know what will.






By: grouse

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:49:44 -0800

meehawl: Touchè.



By: tss

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:50:30 -0800

Hold up. Are we calling glutamate a neurotoxin here? It's the most common neurotransmitter you have. It's essential to brain function, not to mention other cellular functions everywhere else. Your body is soaking in the stuff right now, and making more besides. You are using glutamate every time you cook up an argument about the evils of glutamate. I'm not surprised if some people have bad reactions to MSG. People have bad reactions to all kinds of things. But calling it a neurotoxin is a little bit daffy. Learn about glutamate.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:54:43 -0800

Nickyskye: Are you fucking kidding me? Let me say this again: monosodium glutamate is a NATURALLY OCCURRING SUBSTANCE FOUND IN SEAWEED. Other reports gave similar findings. A 1991 report by the European Communities' (EC) Scientific Committee for Foods reaffirmed MSG's safety and classified its "acceptable daily intake" as "not specified," the most favorable designation for a food ingredient. In addition, the EC Committee said, "Infants, including prematures, have been shown to metabolize glutamate as efficiently as adults and therefore do not display any special susceptibility to elevated oral intakes of glutamate." A 1992 report from the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that glutamate in any form has not been shown to be a "significant health hazard." Also, the 1987 Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have placed MSG in the safest category of food ingredients. Scientific knowledge about how the body metabolizes glutamate developed rapidly during the 1980s. Studies showed that glutamate in the body plays an important role in normal functioning of the nervous system. http://doityourself.com/diet/fdamsg.htm



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:57:19 -0800

For nearly a century, monosodium glutamate has been used safely and effectively in the food supply. Because monosodium glutamate is used widely as a food ingredient, a great deal of research has been completed on its safety and efficacy. Hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted on glutamate with the focus on its use as a food ingredient. This extensive research, conducted and reviewed by scientists and regulatory agencies around the world, combined with its long history of use, clearly demonstrates that monosodium glutamate is safe. In the United States, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is considered to be a common food ingredient, like salt, baking powder and pepper. It is included in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list. This listing means that monosodium glutamate is safe for its intended use. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations state, "It is impracticable to list all substances that are generally recognized as safe for their intended use. However, by way of illustration, the Commissioner (of the FDA) regards such common food ingredients as salt, pepper, vinegar, baking powder and monosodium glutamate as safe for their intended use." Monosodium glutamate is also approved by governments world-wide, including those in Europe, Japan and other Asian countries, North and South America, Africa and Australia and New Zealand. http://www.glutamate.org/media/approvals.htm Hundreds of studies have shown that MSG is safe. The people saying otherwise tend to be the sort you see here: focusing exclusively on anecdotal evidence.



By: McGuillicuddy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 09:58:32 -0800

But I guess that's not going to stop these crowd of MSG-hating lunatics from blaming the evil FDA for killing us all. Despite aerify's zealous attack on anyone that would question his (lack of sited) evidence or the political machine at the FDA, I only posted because blind-faith in government agencies is ill-advised. The list of substances the FDA approved then disapproved when more evidence was taken under consideration is long and scary. Would anybody like a saccharine sweetened drink to swallow those estrogen pills? (Yes, I am aware saccharine is no longer considered a human carcinogen.) We can extract arsenic and lead from seaweed too, so those must be a good safe flavor enhancers too, right? There are lots of natural substances that I'd prefer not being served under the guise of spices or flavor enhancers.



By: Morrigan

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:07:30 -0800

aerify, you seem pretty worked up. Maybe you should cut down on your MSG intake.



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:13:21 -0800

To be fair, I better than skimmed the Harvard Law link from 1997 provided by nickyskye and it really does not take this debate further. It noted that there are 2 sides obviously to the argument and each has critics of each other's science. (although I thought some of the arguments posited about glutamate studies by the anti-MSG league were rather poor - for instance, saying that it was unsafe to extrapolate data from a study to the whole population, but that's why we have statistical analysis) Anyway, fuck the FDA - their equivocation and history are somewhat irrelevant. What science are these other governements relying upon and are there available bona fide studies from this century showing?



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:14:20 -0800

We can extract arsenic and lead from seaweed too, so those must be a good safe flavor enhancers too, right? Heh. You just contradicted your own point that you don't like MSG partly because it's not "natural" (which it is). Like I said, whether it's natural or not is irrelevant to whether it's safe. By the way, there is nothing wrong with saccharine or estrogen. Estrogen, like MSG, is also a chemical your body produces.



By: Edible Energy

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:15:05 -0800

Countless millions of billions of studies have proven it!! Endless seas of studies!!! If you spent the rest of your life counting, you wouldn't be able to count all the studies!!!! Seriously!!! It's like counting the friggin stars in the sky!! Or.. or grains of sand!!! That's how many studies there are!



By: Balisong

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:16:23 -0800

I'll flavor my organic meals with natural spices, Right, as opposed to the inorganic rocks and dirt we other, less conscious people eat. posted by aerify at 8:49 AM PST on July 10 [!] You know, salt is an inorganic rock, right? MSG is the EXACT SAME CHEMICAL that you can extract from dried seaweed. Is seaweed not natural to you? And ricin is the exact same chemical that you can extract from castor beans. Cocaine is the exact same chemical you can extract from cocoa leaves. Are they not natural? I think you have a very stake in this pony show, aerify.



By: Balisong

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:16:57 -0800

-er- high stake



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:17:33 -0800

Lack of cited evidence? Forgive me if I'm not able to dig around and find every study that proves that MSG is perfectly safe. Every industrialized nation approves of MSG as safe as salt or sugar, so it's not just your evil FDA at work here. But I guess in McGuillicuddy's world all nations are embroiled in some evil conspiracy to kill him by putting MSG in every food we eat. blind-faith in government agencies is ill-advised No shit. But that's far cry from the lunatic fringe that is the anti-MSG movement.



By: meehawl

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:17:50 -0800

Your body is soaking in the stuff right now Indeed. The statements positing a relational concordance between peanut allergies and a spectrum of reactions to glutamate in the diet is at best a straw man argument. The fact that only a tiny proportion of the population suffers from such "peanut" allergies is thus an argument in favour of a tiny proportion of the population suffering from similar glutamate "allergies" is based on faulty science. Allergies to foreign ingested proteins occur because your body has been trained ("hypersensitized") to produce IgE antibodies to the epitopes of specific foreign proteins. This is a testable condition and can be verified, easily and inexpensively, by any number of skin, blood, or plasma tests. The specific allergan can be identified with great precision. The link between the causitive agent and the symptomatic response is irrefutable, categorically reproducable, and admits of no simpler hypothesis. By most criteria of provability, it is a done deal. By contrast, posited immune responses to non-pathological levels of glutamate in the diet have never proven to be testable, repeatable, or based on any coherent hypothesis. Therefore, it is not science but faith. If anyone manifested a Type 1 immune reaction to glutamate, then they would be dead within minutes. If, instead, the argument for MSG Syndrome rests on a more subtle, slower, delayed response to glutamamte, then there would be a slower Type 2 immune response to glutamate occuring (or even any of the Types 3, 4, 5, etc). This would manifest in obvious, continued symptoms of increased severity resembling lupus, rheumatism, anemia, and so on. The prognosis would probably be terminal. This would be inevitable considering the continual, large-scale production of glutamate within the body coupled with its almost complete presence within the human diet. For the people who are glutamate phobic, you still have not explained how it is that a human body could be negatively sensitized to glutamate ingested through the digestive tracts without being simultaneously sickened by the [...]



By: Gyan

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:18:22 -0800

tss : "Hold up. Are we calling glutamate a neurotoxin here?

"It's the most common neuro
transmitter you have. It's essential to brain function, not to mention other cellular functions everywhere else." Depends on context. Look up 'glutamate excitotoxicity' on PubMed. There's an amount range within which the organism maintains homeostasis. Fall outside those bounds and the cycles/loops deviate and very well may cause permanent damage.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:20:00 -0800

I only brought up the "natural" argument because McGuillicuddy kept insisting that MSG wasn't natural, not that it has anything to do with its safety. It's a salt. It's an amino acid your body produces in large doses. I think you have a very high stake in this pony show, aerify. No stake. I just enjoy flaming retards.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:25:15 -0800

Maybe I'm not credible because I'm being an enormous dick, but perhaps someone less excitable could explain nicely to these anti-MSG folk that they have nothing to fear except, uh, fear itself. It's a little like the anti-"dihydrogen oxide" movement, only not a joke.



By: tss

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:30:12 -0800

Gyan: Good point, but so it is for everything. That's why calling glutamate a neurotoxin is so baffling to me. It's like calling water a poison, which, sure, it is in sufficient quantity. *chugs another cup of common industrial solvent*



By: peacay

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:31:11 -0800

Thanks meehawl, that was an erudite analysis.



By: Optimus Chyme

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:31:36 -0800

Apparently each American eats up to 140 to 150 pounds of food additives every year. posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM PST on July 10 Um, way to quote a source that improperly quotes a source. Let's go all the way back to the original and see what immediately follows: "Of that total, 98 percent is made up of such familiar ingredients as sugar, corn sweeteners, salt, citric acid, pepper, vegetable colors, mustard, yeast, and baking soda." from here. It's pretty dishonest intellectually to make a claim like that and not mention that - by my wild but probably pretty good guess - a good 99% of that 98% is from sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I could probably talk for pages and pages about HFCS and why I hate it and why it's the worst food additive currently used, but I'll stay on topic. Look, I realize that the FDA is, like most government institutions, at best mediocre and at worst terrible, but it's better than the alternative, which is to listen to every nutty mercury-causes-autism, MSG-causes-autism, anything-not-"natural"-causes-cancer wackjob out there. No thanks. When something is approved by the FDA, you get a pretty good guarantee it won't kill you outright or, like, turn your skin gray. With herbal practioners and naturopaths and the like - don't be so sure.



By: aerify

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:31:57 -0800

http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2004/20040319l.jpg I'm out for this thread. Hopefully someone will pick up my argument and run with it in a more convincing manner.



By: advil

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:32:18 -0800

aerify - you really need to take a deep breath and a break. I mean, you've insulted many of the other people in the thread, you've effectively called anyone who thinks they get a headache from MSG racist, and you're accusing other people of trolling?? I basically agree with your viewpoint but I don't think you're going to convince anyone this way.



By: advil

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:33:00 -0800

on post - nevermind, should've waited.



By: elpapacito

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:34:34 -0800

aerifiy: you're so aware of the actual, real health risks that you MUST rely on experts at FDA (or some other experienced group of people) to know if something is safe or unsafe for consumption. I bet that you carefully listen at their words and trust their decisions..curiously, any religious zealot too also carefully listens to the words proclaimed by some high priest of the moment..and actually believes the message they convey. Malor may be ignorant, in the sense that he doesn't really know what the effect of MSG could be on his/her body and maybe also believes that MSG is an harmful poison ; at least he's certainly a goodfaith whistleblower attempting to warn people of what he thinks to be a danger. aerify dude do you recognize that you're just using malor's message to attack him and not his position ? I'm not discounting the fact that he may be, in fact, sensitive to some chemical, or something else (although it's highly unlikely). But anecdotes do not make a science. A thousand anectodes any better ? You know, a lot of people reported sneezing and stomach ache and a sensation of feeling bad and weak....they recovered and they literally were in good health , so some doctor thought they're just fanatics because they didn't see any symptom. If their anecdotes were to be superficially discarded as bullshit , today we probably wouldn't know about influenza virus. Also some other scientist tought that, maybe, some of the people wasn't really reporting a true event..but they were just making it up..maybe to attract attention, maybe because they felt alone...and so by not discarding superficially reported facts as "baloonery" but by understanding that these people actually were telling "their truth" little by little the idea of analyzing human behavior was born. Welcome to psycology and ps[...]



By: Optimus Chyme

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:45:56 -0800

Can anyone parse elpapacito's comment for me?



By: Ethereal Bligh

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:54:30 -0800

I think I need to read Candide again. I'm puzzled and annoyed by the near-universal human habit of feeling beseiged by mysterious forces. Food suspicion is an example. There are other broad and common categories. Part of why I error on the side of not being suspicious is because this is a clear human tendency and from study and observation I'm convinced most people error on the side of excessive suspicion. Even so, of course, there must be some mysterious forces beseiging me. I certainly don't think this is the best of all possible universes. But mostly I prefer to be less suspicious rather than more because I simply don't want to live with much of my experience tinted with fear. And usually these oppressing forces are a group (or groups) of other human beings and, given that, I don't want to spend a lot of my time being angry with other people or even hating them.



By: George_Spiggott

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 10:58:58 -0800

elpapacito says it all. There is no reason maior cannot be right in interpreting his experiences -- MSG is an industrially produced compound of a natural substance which we all eat every day. Adverse reactions to it are not to be expected by a naive prediction, but hardly impossible. Did this exact formulation occur naturally in everybody's pre-1900 diet? And aerify, your compulsive, paranoid ranting about the agenda of some "anti-science cabal" or " the anti-MSG movement" is no less demented than the conspiracy theory aspersions you throw around so wildly.



By: spinifex23

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:00:51 -0800

No idea why, but large amounts of MSG give me asthma attacks. This occurs with the MSG found in, say, Cheetos, on top of the MSG found in Asian food. I don't know if it's the amount, or the type, or if it breaks down when cooking, because I'm sure I eat more MSG during the day than I care to admit, but it only affects me in certain quantities/situations. So, I'm one of those restaurant goers that loves those 'NO MSG' signs. (However, I also don't believe that there's an MSG cabal out to poison us, I just have a really tweaky immune system that just rejects MSG, sulfites, and peanuts outright.)



By: nickyskye

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:06:27 -0800

Well said elpapacito. Good point Gyan. I agree with you Bali_Song. From the Harvard Law School article about this, linked to in my last post. "In the U.S. today, MSG is produced through a fermentation process using starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses." If some people have adverse reactions to a manufactured food additive, which millions of people have complained about for decades, I think they have a right to know what they are eating and not have MSG included in the list of ingredients hidden under "natural flavoring". From the same Harvard Law School paper cited above: "the United States consumes approximately 28,000 tons of MSG per year" Let's see, the population of the USA is 295,734,134. 28,000 times 2000, divided by 295,734,134 is about 1.89 pounds, per person per year. That seems to me worth being concerned about as a potential health risk. In light of ill health related to eating junk food and the savouriness of junk food being manipulated artificially with MSG/other additives/artificial flavorings and the sheer quantity of MSG consumed in the USA, plus the amount of people saying they feel sick after eating food flavored with MSG, I have doubts about the risks of MSG being used, especially when it's hidden as an ingredient with less than transparent labeling. From the same paper discussing the MSG controversy: "When bound to other amino acids, glutamate is not biologically-active externally; therefore, glutamate in its "free" form is the only form that contributes to flavor enhancement.[4] MSG does not have a distinct flavor on its own. How it adds flavor to other foods is not fully understood, though scientists believe that when someone[...]



By: mlis

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:12:13 -0800

MeTa per SI



By: SteveTheRed

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:13:25 -0800

aerify: No stake. I just enjoy flaming retards. You know, the hell of it is, I pretty much agree with most of what you have said in your comments. As the father of a son who among other things, is mentally retarded, I feel the same way about people who casually throw around the word "retard" as I imagine people of african descent feel about people who use the N word. Can we just have a nice discussion without breaking out the slurs?



By: gesamtkunstwerk

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:31:33 -0800

The last time I ate at KFC I felt lousy, got a headache and felt dizzy. I think the food was greasy, over salted and low in fibre. Blaming my reaction on one little ingrediant seems naive to say the least. Taking MSG out of fast food, is just one little step toward making the food edible. The only way to test if you are allergic or sensitive to a product is to go to an allergist or dietician. MSG laden products are also high in sodium and many other additives. To look at a list of ingredients and see one common additive is not scientific to say the least. I don't want to attack anyone personally, but if you are sickened by Diet Coke, or KFC, you may be reacting to a dozen factors, some of which are as simple as poor nutrition and lack of fibre. Constipation, dehydration and high blood pressure can trigger a host of unpleasant symptoms that could be misidentified as allergy. My bit of anecdotal evidence-- people who don't consume junk food, who eat a variety of vegetables-- have better digestion and general health, find themselves more tolerant of food. Eating well won't cure a peanut allergy, but it will make you feel a whole lot better.



By: nickyskye

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:39:11 -0800

Good point SteveTheRed. Disagreement can be civil. From the FDA site: "The agency also has an ongoing contract with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology to reexamine the scientific data on possible adverse reactions to glutamate in general. MSG must be declared on the label of any food to which it is added." But if MSG is allowed to be hidden as an ingredient under such misleading names as "natural flavoring" then it is not being declared. Also from the FDA: "Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain. Consumption of glutamate in food, however, does not cause this effect. While people normally consume dietary glutamate in large amounts and the body can make and metabolize glutamate efficiently, the results of animal studies conducted in the 1980s raised a significant question: Can MSG and possibly some other glutamates harm the nervous system?" Also from the FDA: "The FASEB report identifies two groups of people who may develop a condition the report refers to as "MSG symptom complex." One group is those who may be intolerant to MSG when eaten in a large quantity. The second is a group of people with severe, poorly controlled asthma. These people, in addition to being prone to MSG symptom complex, may suffer temporary worsening of asthmatic symptoms after consuming MSG. The MSG dosage that produced reactions in these people range[...]



By: languagehat

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:39:23 -0800

Can we just have a nice discussion without breaking out the slurs? Apparently not. This is MeFi, where considering other people's feelings threatens your carefully hoarded geek cred. But for what it's worth, I agree with you.



By: willpie

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:49:07 -0800

Has anyone heard from aerify on this matter? I'm dying to know what aerify thinks. If only aerify would post, I don't know, every five fucking seconds or so, that would really help me out.



By: five fresh fish

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:53:34 -0800

There's a theory that says the antidepressant gives a sort of boost of energy that's not enough to counter the depression but enough to allow the person to go through with the suicidal act. I'll buy that theory. When I was in the darkest throes of depression, I couldn't muster up the emotion to care about actually doing what I was thinking. I can well imagine that some people, on starting their meds, find it within themselves to finally enact their dark thoughts.
An average 2lbs ingested annually? Ick. Just as eating too much fat, sugar, or drinking waaaay too much water in a day can make you very unhealthy, I've no reason to believe eating too much MSG can harm you. However, I don't believe for a moment that small amounts of it are overly bad. Quit eating the damn junkfood crap, and maybe you won't end up with a bad headache next time you overload your body with the shyte-in-a-bucket that KFC serves up. Hell, for that matter, anyone who eats KFC deserves what they get. That isn't food, it's swill. Stupid frigging people.



By: five fresh fish

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 11:55:43 -0800

c/no reason to believe/no reason to not believe/ But you probably figured it out for yourself.



By: ikkyu2

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 12:05:15 -0800

It *is* a neurotoxin. It is probably low enough toxicity that most people don't notice it. But it is still killing brain cells. Tell us some more of your cracky tales, why don't you. Glutamate is one of the 20 essential amino acids, and it happens to be the one that something like 90% of the neurons in your brain use as their primary transmitter. Let me say this again. It's your brain's PRIMARY CHEMICAL TRANSMITTER AT THE SYNAPSE. If it weren't there your brain WOULD NOT WORK. Or maybe you were using some weird definition of 'neurotoxin' of which I was previously unaware?



By: clevershark

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 12:07:11 -0800

MeTa per SI In the future, every FPP will have its Meta.



By: tss

Sun, 10 Jul 2005 12:13:51 -0800

Abnormal function of glutamate receptors has been linked with certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's chorea. Sure, glutamate receptors. No surprises there. Abnormal function of your drain is linked to a flooded bathroom, but water is not entirely at fault. Injections of glutamate in laboratory animals have resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain. Injections where? The bloodstream or directly into brain tissue? Glutamate doesn't cross the blood/brain barrier to any appreciable degree---if it did, you'd have a grand mal seizure right after finishing off your General Tso's Chicken. Overwhelming neurons directly with glutamate, just like overwhelming your body with water, is unsurprisingly harmful. Eating MSG doesn't appear to do this. the results of animal studies conducted in the 1980s raised a significant question: Can MSG and possibly some other glutamates harm the nervous system? Immediately followed by:A 1995 report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), an independent body of scientists, helps put these safety concerns into perspective and reaffirms the Food and Drug Administration's belief that MSG and related substances are safe food ingredients for most people when eaten at customary levels.Even if it is the FDA website, I find this selective quoting of informal documents disinge[...]