Random PoP Query – Is MSG Still Bad for You?

When I was growing up, I remember constantly hearing about how bad MSG was for you. It was during the time whenever someone went to a Chinese restaurant they’d say – “no MSG please”. Anyway, when I’m on my walkabouts and I find myself near the Hana Japanese Market at 17th and U St, NW, I always love to stop in and grab some Shrimp flavored chips. It is the best $1.35 snack you will ever find.

However, I have just discovered that there is MSG in my beloved chips:

So for the health conscious folks out there – wasn’t the whole MSG thing a false scare? Isn’t it ok to eat foods with MSG today?

For those not familiar with the great Hana Japanese market, a few photos after the jump.

43 Comment

  • While people often freak out about MSG, glutamates (glutamic acid) are in just about everything. MSG is a salt of glutamic acid (a sodium salt in this case).

  • Many people are allergic to MSG

    • This has proven to be false. Modern research has shown any ill effects people have percieved to MSG are no differant than placebo. People claim to have these effects when told they were given MSG but were actually not.

      • going off on a tangent here…There is a special place in hell for people that claim food allergies where none exist. The typical restaurant ordering procedure for these low-lifes goes like this:

        customer: “hold the nuts, i’m allergic.”
        server: “they are in the sauce, they can’t be removed”
        c: “well are there whole nuts or are they just in the sauce”
        s: “they’re pureed in the sauce”
        c: “oh ok, that’s fine.”

        once you make your stupid little food preference a life and death matter by calling it an allergy, you have to stick with it to the bitter end and order something else off the menu.

  • yes. msg is still bad for you.

  • This has been covered quite a bit on food blogs, and in a big NYTimes article a few years back. I’m sure someone will post some links, but basically:

    Nobody’s allergic to MSG. Many people claim to be, but studies have disproven it. There’s MSG in tons of food, including parmesan cheese and a long list of other things.

    There is no solid scientific evidence of MSG being bad for you. That doesn’t mean it’s NOT bad for you: it just means we have no real proof that it is bad for you.

  • Great – Im glad that a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers of America reads PoP-After Dark. However, when many people say “allergic” they mean it makes them feel shitty… not that it puts them in anaphylactic shock.

    A lot of people think that it makes them feel less than well and people arent going to eat it if it makes them feel that way. Stop making those people sound like hypochondriacs.

    Btw – it doesnt bother me, so its not personal. I just know plenty of people who eat MSG unwittingly, feel bad, and find out they ate it. Also, I think its a trigger for migraines in some people.

    • The thing is that the people who say they feel shitty say that even if they were given placebo and were told it was MSG. It’s all mental

      • houseintherear

        It’s not always mental. It triggers migraines in me, which I finally figured out after journaling my headaches for years.

    • It’s amazing because MSG is in so many foods people eat all the time but they only have the effects if they KNOW it’s there.

  • And I’m glad we have posters from the Shitty Italian Food Restaurant Association here. MSG scares came when Chinese restaurants started to become both popular and ubiquitous. Those gatekeepers of healthy living – sub shops and pizza joints – hated competition. So through industry groups they demonized a particular ingredient in Asian cuisine – closely affiliated with the umani flavor – and combination of junk science and nativism won the day, like it often does. White Americans got fatter and maintained moral superiority over minorities so everything worked out.

    MSG haters are the equivalent of anti vaxxers, but less attractive than Jenny McCarthy and more racist. I cook with it as a raw ingredient and recommend it to my friends. To those who harbor inexplicable soft feelings in opposition, keep stuffing your gullet with 250% sodium subs from Potbelly, and leave the flavor to the rest of us.

  • I find it curious that we have a Chinese Restaurant Syndrome epidemic in the States while over 2 billion people in Asia use and consume MSG daily without a problem.

    I guess there is something about this hemisphere (the air? the water?) that makes people a little bit more sensitive to soy sauce.

  • The whole thing about MSG being bad for you goes back to some crappy study done in the 70’s which used bad data or something but since then it has been discredited and there is no evidence to show any negative effects of MSG.

    It’s a stupid thing that people stick with even after it’s proven false. Like all the morons who still think autism is caused by vaccines.

  • I’m glad we’re discussing this here. Now excuse me while I check out some health and nutrition boards and post questions about nightlife, real estate, crime, animals and social issues in DC there.

  • I have no idea if it’s bad for you or not… but honestly, can it really be worse than the other crap ingredients they put in junk food/soda? And if everyone is fine eating and drinking that, then what harm could a little MSG really have on a person? Also – MSG reference in Top Chef All stars, Chinatown episode, when Marcel was shopping in the chinese market, and picked up some MSG, saying it was his secret ingredient to make everything taste good, haha.

  • I have no idea if it’s bad or not, but if it’s a sodium of some kind, is it bad for people with high blood pressure or who are otherwise diligently avoiding salt as well as junk food and sodas?

    If that’s the case, I think it’s fine to want to know when it’s in your food so you can avoid it – without being accused of being a raving anti-Asian, paranoid, racist loon.

  • What do monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed vegetable protein and Aspartame (Nutrasweet) all have in common? They are all common taste-enhancing additives found in a variety of foods and beverages, and they all contain Excitotoxins. In his book, Excitotoxins — The Taste That Kills, Dr. Russell L. Blaylock provides an extensive review of the literature supporting his hypothesis that these excitatory amino acids can promote death of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Dr. Blaylock defines excitotoxins as a “group of excitatory amino acids that can cause sensitive neurons to die.” The most common ones are glutamate, aspartate, and cysteine.


  • If you’re really afraid of glutamates (all of which are processed by the body the same way), better avoid parmesan cheese, tomato paste, fish sauce, nutritional yeast, roll-style sushi, etc etc…

    People eat bad, cheap Chinese food, feel gross afterward and blame… MSG? How about blaming the steam-table orange chicken based on a recipe developed in America forty years ago, with a sugar-based sauce and low-cost/low-quality poultry!

  • I worry more about Dihydrogen Monoxide than MSG.


    • Agree, that’s some dangerous shit. And it’s in EVERYTHING.

    • The Chemical industry has made thousands of chemicals that are dangerous for us. We should work to eliminate all of them from our food and our lives. There is no need to compare. Let’s plan on eliminating MSG from our food AND acid rain from the planet…….

  • I don’t know about MSG but pretty much everything in that ingredients list is bad for you.

  • The wikipedia article on MSG cites a source that says it’s not bad for you:


  • Most things that have that yummy meaty salty taste (like shrimp chips??) have MSG. It is not always listed as MSG. It is not going to kill you and no one is really allergic to it. But, it is salt, so it is probably not great for you either.

  • MSG is used in some steroids.

  • why do places even bother using msg is there is such controversy over it?

    does it make food better for you?

  • Unfortunately I don’t have the reference but supposedly MSG is linked to weight gain or a decrease ability to shed weight efficiently. It’s also a natural byproduct of slow cooked foods/soups/stews. I can see how it would make food taste better then if it binds to fat molecules in a special way. It may give foods a more full feeling in your mouth and that’s why it’s added in some things. I’m not expert in nutritional science but it seems logical to me.

  • 6 degrees of MSG seperation

    MSG = “Umami” = The latest buzz word in cuisine, even though it’s been around for a long while = soy sauce & pickled ginger = sushi = Good for you

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