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.
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.