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More formally known as “Monosodium Glutamate” is a type of naturally occurring glutamic acid–MSG carries a lot of baggage.
It’s one of the most-discussed, least understood components of meals in the last century, so after all that debating and debunking, let’s take a look back on the history of those three letters in food.
Kikunae Ikeda, Chemistry professor at Imperial University of Tokyo, discovers MSG by isolating the substance in seaweed that, for centuries, Japanese cooks had been using to make food taste better.
Suzuki Chemical Company begins marketing MSG in 1909 under the brand name Ajinomoto, meaning “essence of taste.”
Campbell’s becomes one of first American Industry groups to import MSG.
During World War II American GIs take note of MSG’s use in Japanese food rations.
After the war, the Chief Quartermaster of the Armed Forces presides over a symposium in Chicago to take MSG mainstream to members of the food industry.
MSG receives the FDA’s G.R.A.S. (Generally Recognized As Safe) designation.
The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a letter from Robert Ho Man Kwok, M.D. blaming MSG for numbness, tingling, and tightness of the chest he experienced 20 minutes into a meal at a Chinese food restaurant.
Ajinomoto sees sales of MSG decline for the first time.
“In Bad Taste: The MSG Syndrome” by George R. Schwartz is published in the United States.
The FDA’s Center For Food Safety and Applied Nutrition publishes a report concluding that MSG is safe.
Public concern surrounding MSG intesifies.
Campbell’s announces the removal of added MSG from all soups marketed towards children.
Campbell’s launches WhatsInMyFood.com to provide greater transparency across all soup varieties.
So while MSG is naturally present in many foods such as tomatoes and cheeses, Campbell’s is continuing to reduce our use of added MSG to help us respond to consumer demand in making great-tasting, nutritious food available to all.
Monosodium Glutamate is a naturally occurring sodium salt of glutamic acid, which means that it’s a type of salt produced by a type of chemical that exists in almost all living organisms. The relative abundance of glutamic acid means that MSG can be found all over the biological map, so to speak, including tomatoes, cheeses, and other foods.