The nation went into a tizzy over products in which Ajinomoto (Aji No Moto – “Essence of Taste” in Japanese) is used and the agitation died down with equal speed.
But the all-powerful Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responsible for protecting and promoting public health through regulation and supervision of food and drugs in the United States says on its website (www.fda.gov) that the controversial Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is “generally recognised as safe” (GRAS). FDA standards are accepted all over the world.
The website says: “FDA considers the addition of MSG to foods “generally recognised as safe” (GRAS). Although many people identify themselves as sensitive to MSG, in studies with such individuals given MSG or a placebo, scientists have not been able to consistently trigger reactions.”
The websites also says “MSG occurs naturally in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheeses. People around the world have eaten glutamate-rich food throughout history.”
Over the years, the FDA has received reports from consumers of symptoms such as headache and nausea after eating food containing MSG. It could not, however, confirm that presence of MSG caused the reported effects.
These adverse event reports triggered the FDA to ask an independent scientific group Federation of American Societies for Experiment Biology (FASEB) to make a study in 1990s.
The FASEB report concluded that MSG is safe, the website says. FASEB report identified some short-term, transient and generally mild symptoms in a few sensitive individuals who consumed 3 gm or more of MSG without food. However, a typical serving of food with added MSG contains less than 0.5 gm. Consuming more than 3 gm of MSG without food at one time is unlikely, the website says.
Safety of ingredients
Hyderabad-based dietician and MD of Nutriline Jyoti Chabria says she uses FDA website as a reference on safety of ingredients used in food, “Products with MSG have been in the market for many years, but no long-term health effects have been reported till date,” said Dr Chabria.
Over the years, the FDA has received reports from consumers of symptoms such as headache and nausea after eating food containing MSG. It could not, however, confirm that presence of MSG caused the reported effects