Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The MSG Conundrum part 5

The MSG Conundrum part 5

Timeline of Studies

1959-FDA classifies MSG as "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS substance along with many other common ingredients such as salt, vinegar and baking powder.

In the late 1960's a Dr. John Olney performed a study by injecting or force feeding huge quantities of MSG to (one report said he injected MSG directly into the brains) neonatal mice. He reported that the mice suffered brain lesions and that MSG could do the same to the brain of an infant so naturally, this turned parents away from feeding their children anything with MSG. The thing here is children reportedly process glutamate the same way and adult does.

In addition, injections of MSG in laboratory animals has resulted in damage to nerve cells in the brain but consumption of glutamate does not have the same effect.

One study indicated that individuals who feel they react to MSG may react to concentration rather than dose.

Critics of animal testing argue that it is unreliable based on the following reasons: a) the reaction to a drug in an animal's body is different from that of a human and, b) the animals used for testing are in an unnatural environment and will be under stress, consequently won't react to drugs the same way they would in a natural environment and, c) there is debate as to whether or not humans are as suseptible to excitotoxins as rodents

I have to admint, if I was locked in a cage and force fed or injected with MSG, or anything for that matter, I would probably have a reaction to it as well.

1970 onwards-FDA sponsored extensive reviews on the safety of MSG, other glutamates and hydrolyzed proteins as part of an ongoing review of safety data on GRAS substances used in processed foods.

1980-A review was conducted by the FASEB Select Committee on GRAS substances and concluded that MSG was safe at currernt levels but recommended additional evaluation to determine MSG's safety at significantly higher levels of consumption.

1986-FDA's Advisory Committee on Hypersensitivity to Food Constituents concluded that MSG poses no threat to the general public but that reactions of brief duration may occur in some people.

1987-the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have placed MSG in the safest category of food ingredients.

1991-European Communities' (EC) Sceintific Committee for Foods reaffirmed MSG's safety and classified its "acceptable daily intake" as "not specified," the most favorable designation for a food ingredient. In addition, the EC Committee said, "Infants, including prematures, have been shown to metablolize glutamate as efficiently as adults and therefore do not display any special susceptibility to elevated oral intakes of glutamate."

1992-a report from the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that glutamate in any form has not been shown to be a "significant health hazard."

1995- Due to the public's continued interest and concerns with MSG, the FDA asked the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) to review MSG and its safety. The FASEB held a two-day meeting comprised of an expert panel and thoroughly reviewed all the available scientific literature on this issue.

Here are some of the key points from that meeting:

-An unknown percentage of the population may react to MSG and develop a condition characterized as "MSG symptom complex" with symptoms ranging from:

burning sensation in the back of neck, forearms and chest, numbness in the back of the neck radiating to the arms and back, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain.

-Severe, poorly controlled asthma may be a predisposing medical condition for MSG symptom complex

-No evidence suggests that dietary MSG causes brain lesions or damages nerve cells in humans

-The level of B6 in a person's body plays a role in glutamate metabolism, and the possible impact of marginal B6 intake should be considered in future research (another study has also supported this).

-There is no scientific evidence that the levels of glutamate in hydrolyzed proteins causes adverse effects or that other manufactured glutamate has effects different from glutamate normally found in foods.

2002-A study showed that rats fed on diets where 10%-20% of their total diet was pure MSG suffered retina degeneration. Such high amounts are more than ten times higher than those used in flavoring or found in foods and would not be possible to replicate in a meal for human consumption.

Much of the evidence linking MSG to these health issues has been anecdotal with many reports of non-specific symptoms. Many studies have been plagued with inconsistencies ranging from uncontrolled open challenges to double-blind, placebo challenges. Some studies were not even observed when MSG was taken with food and some studies revealed that a small percentage of test subjects reacted to both the MSG and the placebo but not showing symptoms of CRS.

Another variable is that the methodology of the testing is sometimes flawed with responses to tests inconsistent and not reproducible. When the small percentage of people do show reactions, it has been when straight MSG is given to them in large doses on an empty stomach.

The University of Western Sydney researchers stated 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is an anecdote applied to a variety of postprandial illnesses,' rigorous and realistic scientific evidence linking the syndrome to MSG could not be found.

Any official body, either government or academic, in America or any other country that has researched MSG and its affects on the human body has labeled normal quantities as safe for consumption.


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