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Msg: The Risky Taste Essay

2749 words - 11 pages

Food additives have been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. They have been used for a wide variety of purposes: to preserve food to keep it from spoiling, to enhance flavor, or the simple purpose of making food look more presentable to whoever is going to consume it. But the most prominent food additive is what is called M.S.G. This food additive, whose name is short for Monosodium Glutamate, has been in the U.S. for over 60 years. This is a food additive that has been known to kill, which is why it should be removed from the market in the first place, or at least be heavily regulated by the FDA. One might not care about this topic because they think it is nothing to get worked up over, but MSG is not something to laugh about. Before anything too radical happens, one must follow the first rule of engaging the enemy; know more about the enemy, in this case, MSG. There are things that need to be known about MSG’s history and origin, the chemical composition, the risks of having it in the body, such as diseases linked to consuming it, people that want to keep it in the market (yes, there are people who want to keep this stuff), food that contains MSG, and a solution to the many problems it causes. With these key points in mind, let's explore the origins of MSG and the problems associated with it.
MSG, by itself is a type of sodium salt of glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid. This is not just "salt" like in table salt, but something different altogether. In terms of appearance, it resembles a white powdery substance. While it doesn't technically have a melting point, when heated it decomposes. But that's assuming it's not put into any foods beforehand. MSG's molecular formula is C5H8NNaO4. That's five parts carbon, eight parts hydrogen, one part nitrogen, on part sodium, and four parts oxygen. Table salt, on the other hand, is only NaCl, or sodium chloride, which is one part sodium, one part chlorine. Also, MSG is not sprinkled on food like table salt is, instead it's mixed into the food being enhanced. MSG is also what is called an excitoxin, which is a type of molecule that stimulates the nerve cells when it is introduced in the body. This stimulation is what gives MSG its reputation as a flavor enhancing product. However, stimulation nerve cells is anything but a good idea because overdoing it has a high chance killing them. To be honest, MSG is anything but "salt" because of this characteristic.(Romanowski)
MSG was discovered in Japan in the year 1908 by Professor Kikunae Ikeda. Wondering why people, such as his wife, added Kombu, a type of Japanese seaweed, into foods such as stew and soups to enhance their taste, Professor Ikeda took this question to his laboratory at the Tokyo Imperial University. It was there that he discovered the very component that was enhancing the flavor. It was identified as a form of a sodium compound of glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate, which is how MSG got its name. (Lee) After...

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