Hidden MSG in Terra Chips (and why you shouldn’t freak out)

Hidden MSG in Terra Chips (and why you shouldn’t freak out)

Terrachips My sister Pam, the most nutritionally vigilant member of my family, caught this report on hidden MSG in flavored Terra Chips, which explains that MSG appears in many foods under sneaky names like "autolyzed yeast extract." Before you start a panicked review of your pantry, here are some quick salient facts about MSG that you should know:

1. Glutamic Acid, is a naturally occuring non-essential amino acid that gives many foods (especially the fermented or aged ones) the Umami or savory taste.  MSG is the combination of a sodium and glutamate molecule.

2. The FDA classifies MSG as "generally recognized as safe."

3. The Mayo Clinic confirms that there is no defnitive evidence linking MSG to the host of reactions (headache, nausea, weakness, numbness) that comprise the anecdotal "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."

4. Tyramine is present in almost all of the same foods as Glutamate and there is much more evidence linking it various symptoms, including migranes, but it's also in foods like bananas and avocados.

The bottom line: I'm not worried about hidden MSG — or even MSG itself.  And if calling glutamate by other names avoids an ill-informed consumer backlash, I don't see much harm. But any food that requires such a close reading of the labels is probably a food we shouldn't be consuming too much of anyway.  Terra Chips are still chips, after all.



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  1. 1

    A chip is a chip is a chip. I read a report somewhere that says you might as well eat Doritos. All the same junk. I’m addicted to a salty delight here akin to cheetos, called Cheese tris which leaves an orange residue on one’s fingers that betrays, and is almost impossible to wash off! They’re made by Frito Lay (who else?) and contain things I don’t even want to think about. Artificial cheese, matodextrina which gives you the runs, And other ingredients that sound positively lethal like diosido de silicio. If I don’t translate all the Spanish I can fool myself into thinking I’m not slowly being poisoned.

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