Pigs are flying, hell’s freezing over, and the Chinese are starting to say no to MSG (monosodium glutamate), the infamous savory food additive that’s the lifeblood of many of your favorite cheap Chinese dishes. In light of the ongoing food scares, MSG has come under fire despite the fact that some of its adverse health effects have been exaggerated or even made up, the Economic Observer reports.
It has become common practice in China, specifically among those who are sticklers for food quality, to request dishes that don’t include this non-essential amino acid. More and more amateurs of cooking, especially younger consumers, are banning it from their diets.
But is MSG actually harmful? According to reports by the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, it doesn’t hurt the human body as long as it is consumed moderately. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration came to the same conclusion in 1995.
But baseless assertions continue despite these reports. The claims that it can cause cancer under high heat or that children will become dumb if they ingest too much have spread among the Chinese. Westerners are also anxious about the additive.
So while MSG may give you such a sodium rush that after eating a bowl of wonton soup you expect deer to come up and lick you, it’s not as heinous as they say.
The good news is the scare may prompt MSG-employing eateries to revert back to traditional meat, veg, and dried seafood-based stocks. This would be a welcome change from the norm in China, which seems to be swapping traditional ingredients (recent example: soy milk) with cheap substitutes.
[Image credit: @ceegee-ceegee]