July 28, 2016: Food additives are a common part of our food products. One of the most common food additive is monosodium glutamate. We commonly call it as Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto actually is a brand name while the compound is known as MSG. Various studies have been conducted to see how MSG or ajinomotoaffects our body, but a lot of conflicting debates have risen.
The most common debate is about MSG or ajinomoto and Chinese restaurant syndrome. Many have experienced various symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, sweating, flushing while some even develop breathing problems, swelling of the throat etc. Now you know why you get the stuffy, icky feeling after eating out regularly.
How bad is MSG for your health?
MSG is commomly added to not only Chinese foods but also to soups, processed meats and vegetables. Though MSG has been used for over a century there have been reports of adverse reactions with foods containing MSG.
The immediate & common symptoms include :
- Headache, flushing, sweating.
- Tightness or pressure on the face.
- Numbness, tingling or burning on the face or neck.
- Chest pains, Heart palpitations.
- Nausea & weakness.
Side Effects of MSG
MSG is not only addictive but consuming MSG may have far-reaching health complications over a period of time. Some of them are:high blood pressure, autism, hormonal imbalance, epilepsy, food allergies, asthma, reduction in bile formation, cancer, possible sterility in females – in studies it has caused female sterility in animals, ringing in ears, irregular or fast heart hear beat and heart attacks, worsen low blood sugar situation in those whose BP keeps low normally, thyroid dysfunction, obesity, type 2 diabetes, damage to the retina of the eyes.
The Global Standard for food processing is the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius is put out by FAO/WHO and is the current standard for processed food worldwide. As per the Codex Alimentarius guidelines, the addition of MSG should be as per GMP only in certain categories of food as prescribed by Codex.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines, MSG is not permitted in more than 50 food products including pastas and noodles. The question is which foods to avoid ? The list of these foods is overwhelming. Suffice it to say here that first and foremost avoid Fast Food outlets. They are the worst offenders with regards to MSG use.
What can be done?
Though the FDA has classified MSG as “safe for general use” it is not so. However this is controversial as most processed foods have MSG in them and because of the cumulative effect the level of MSG in the blood becomes dangerous.
Here are ways you can make food safe to eat and stay away from adding MSG to enhance the palatability or flavor of the food you eat. Tomatoes, soy, herbs, spices, even caramelizing mushrooms till brown will all intensify the flavor of the food and hence make it tastier & more palatable. Use these and stay away from the dangerous MSG.
FOR BETTER HEALTH:M. Jagadish Chandra Bose, District Designated Officer, Food Safety Wing, addressing a seminar in Ramanathapuram on Thursday.
District Food Safety Wing of Food Safety and Drug Administration Department has warned hoteliers and bakery owners that they will face proceedings under the Food Safety and Standards Act if they sell misbranded, substandard and unsafe food items to consumers.
Addressing an awareness seminar on ‘Food safety’ here on Thursday, Jagadish Chandra Bose, District Designated Officer, Food Safety Wing, said hoteliers and bakery owners should be extremely guarded against selling packaged food items without following the provisions of the Act.
He said when they sold packed food items they should ensure that the pack contained the ingredients, nutritious contents, batch number, lot number, date of manufacturing and date of expiry as per the provisions of the Act.
If they were charged with selling misbranded and substandard food items, they would be required to appear before the District Revenue Officer (DRO), the adjudicating authority, and face trial. If they were charged with selling unsafe food, they would be tried before the Judicial Magistrate Court, he said.
Stating that all those selling food products should obtain licence under the Food Safety and Standards Act by August 4, 2016, he said hoteliers and bakers should be doubly cautious against adding synthetic colours and preservatives when they made food items.
The bakers should be aware that potassium bromate/ iodate and sodium chromate were banned in bread making, he said.
The seminar, jointly organised by Ramanathapuram District Hotel, Bakery, Mess and Tea Stall Owners’ Association and Food Safety Wing, was attended among others by V. Subbaraman, association district president, and P. Venkatasubby, district secretary.