Info on MSG

Hi I have been very confused about the variety of information available on the web about MSG. So I have just come off the phone from speaking to the people at the UK Food Standards Agency www.food.gov.uk who were able to help me out with some facts.

In the UK all labels are required to indicate whether food contains MSG in any form either by its chemical name Monosodium Glutamate or by E Number E621.

Confusingly there is another substance called “glutamate” which is a completely different substance and is probably found in gelatin, yeast extracts and flavourings and natural flavourings and also occurs naturally in the human body and in breast milk. These ingredients DO NOT contain monosodium glutamate. So if like me you are having reactions, they would have to be caused by something else. In my case probably worry and fear giving me palpitations.

I hope this info is helpful. More info can be found at the website above. Look in the A to Z directory under flavourings.

It’s not really that confusing. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid, which is called glutamate as an ion/when bound into a salt. Thus, MSG contains glutamate (or glutamic acid if you view it that way).

It’s not confusing once it’s explained. What I found confusing were the various webites that lump them them together. It’s not the glutamate part that is the problem.

there are a variety of ingredients that contain glutamate but it has been assumed that this is the same as monosodium glutamate and it is not. Some websites do not make the distinction which is unhelpful to people who have to understand labelling carefully.

I have always found this to be very confusing…thanks for the clarification!!!

Pam

— Begin quote from “Radhika”

It’s not confusing once it’s explained. What I found confusing were the various webites that lump them them together. It’s not the glutamate part that is the problem.

there are a variety of ingredients that contain glutamate but it has been assumed that this is the same as monosodium glutamate and it is not. Some websites do not make the distinction which is unhelpful to people who have to understand labelling carefully.

— End quote

OK, now I’m confused. :?
If the glutamate part isn’t the problem, then it has to be the sodium part - once you add them together in an aqueous solution, such as water (or stomach acid, I guess), you’ll end up with a sodium ion and a glutamate ion going separate ways - so how can glutamate be any different from MSG, unless you’re on a super-low sodium diet? :slight_smile:
Besides, people do have issues with free glutamate - mushrooms and tomatoes are often listed as migraine triggers due to a relatively high content of free glutamate.

Yes the chap at the Food Standards Agency did mention mushrooms and tomatoes as migraine trigger but for reasons other than MSG because they do not contain MSG.

It may well be that naturally occurring glutamate causes problems for some people but this is totally separate from monosodium glutamate.

So I suppose that means that both can be triggers.

— Begin quote from “Radhika”

Yes the chap at the Food Standards Agency did mention mushrooms and tomatoes as migraine trigger but for reasons other than MSG because they do not contain MSG.

It may well be that naturally occurring glutamate causes problems for some people but this is totally separate from monosodium glutamate.

So I suppose that means that both can be triggers.

— End quote

But how are they different? :?
As far as I know, dissolved MSG (sodium bonded with glutamate) and glutamate both contain glutamate - by chemical definition. Remove the sodium atoms and they are the same, “natural” or not. Just like all electrons are equal, all glutamate ions are equal, and I just don’t see how the sodium atom changes things.
There are other related additives:
glutamic acid (E620), monopotassium glutamate (E622), calcium diglutamate (E623), monoammonium glutamate (E624), and magnesium diglutamate (E625).
None of these are anywhere near as common as MSG, but I don’t see how any of them could cause a different reaction than it (E621), chemically speaking. Of course, since they’re so rare in use, I can’t exactly provide even anecdotal evidence. :slight_smile:

Meh, whatever. I don’t pretend to know why MSG is a trigger when glutamic acid is an important neurotransmitter, among other things, that we need to live, but it sure is.

In the Heal your Headache book, there is a whole list of substances that can be hidden MSG with other names…I found a lot of these listed in various foods in the UK. Still cannot work this one out , and feel things may be hidden and food labels not as clear as they should be.
Tomatoes are bad for me, if I eat them a lot, I feel it so now cutting them out.
What a minefield.
Penny