The Maggi controversy: What is MSG?

Bengaluru, June 3: Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a chemical compound that is more complex than the Maggi controversy. Medical experts and food officials go all over the place over the side effects of MSG and the way it harms the body.

Needless to say that its presence in India's favorite snack will raise a concern among Indian mothers. While Nestle reveals that it does not add MSG in the Indian batch, the FDA says otherwise.


And the household debate continues. However, here are a certain few things that one must know about MSG:

What is MSG?

It is one of the most common, naturally occuring non-essential amino acid, which is found in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, potatoes, mushrooms, and other vegetables and fruits.

In the food industry, it is used as a taste enhancer that increases the meaty, savoury flavor of food.

[Read: From jointer to rejoinder: Joining families, Maggi's transforming ads since 1980s]

Health effects

Although the U.S Food and Drug Administration recognises MSG as safe, it is considered far more harmful in India. It has long-term effects, but show signs of discomfort among sensitive people whenever consumed. TYpical MSG complaints include:

  • Burning sensations of the mouth, head and neck
  • Headaches
  • Weakness of the arms or legs
  • Upset stomach
  • Hives or other allergic-type reactions with the skin

Dr. Russell Blaylock, who wrote a book on the subject called Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, further emphasizes the effects of the compound on the body. According to him MSG overstimulates our nervous system, which involves exciting the nerves and causing an inflammatory response.

Scientists across the year have also discovered that the compound can also destroyed the Retina and parts of the Brain. Nervous disorders and radical hormone fluctuations are some of the other symptoms that show that MSG is working.

Many studies have also shown that it is particularly harmful for pregnant women and nursing mothers as infants and very young children are succeptible to brain damage and underdevelopment.

[Read: Maggi samples unsafe in Delhi; Karnataka, Maha send samples for testing]

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