Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No Added MSG

Does this mean there is no MSG in the product or you don't consciously add MSG in making your product?

This is another case of deceptive marketing. Its tempting to provide the benefit of the doubt to the marketers. But ever since I saw "No added MSG" on products like Lays or Maggi - I knew for sure that it is a case of meaning "We don't add MSG, but some ingredients may contain MSG". Though it is clear to everyone that people would interpret this as "This product contains no MSG". Why don't they word it as "Contains 0 mg of MSG" to make it absolutely clear?

I thought of dissecting this claim on Maggi. Well, we had a pack at our house! As I suspected, maltodextrin contains MSG. Besides, "CONTAINS ADDED NATURE IDENTICAL FLAVORING SUBSTANCE" leaves it very open. They go on record saying - "We would like to confirm that 'No MSG is added' in the manufacture of MAGGI NOODLES. This can easily be seen from our label which lists all the ingredients contained in the product." Link here. They are saying the same thing but not clarifying. Also why do you think the pdf is an image and not text?

If you have children in your house, please ensure they don't come in contact with these food products. I know they show happy child faces and bulging biceps - but it is just not worth it! May be once in a great while, just to make your kids happy! Whatever be the case - there is going to be a lot of mumbo-jumbo in the explanations. Why not just stay clear!

20 comments:

Rams said...

what's the health concern behind MSGs? Wikipedia concludes there isn't much: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate

Radha said...

A tit bit information, from my experience of handling a few children classes,75% of the children say that their most favorite food is maggi. I leave it to both of you (Deepak and Rams) to research and conclude if msg is really a health concern. If it is, then it is quite a challenge to create the necessary awareness to the public.

I recently met a 4 year old child wearing thick glasses. Her aunt said she has problems with her eye sight ever since her birth and they found this out when they saw that the child is able to watch TV only from a short distance. I told her that it has become quite common these days to meet children below 10 wearing thick glasses. This was not so before 15 or 20 years. She said this happens if the baby is scanned when she\he is 2 or 3 months old in the mother's womb. This is the time that the baby's eye development takes place in the womb. Generally Doctors do not advice scanning before 5 or 6 months of pregnancy, but if there is any complication\problem in the pregnancy, they do. This answers why this problem was not common before 20 years of time, when scanning was not so common.

If this is true, this is a matter of concern too.

Deepak said...

Rams,
Forget about MSG for a moment. Why should the marketing be so deceptive? Did you read how they had 'clarified' the question? They put 'No MSG is added' in quotes!

Anyway, MSG is labeled as an excito-toxin - that affects brain cells directly. Worse, it is noted to affect children's brains upto four times more. Personally [no proof to vouch for it, so take it with a pinch of salt], I feel 'controlled testing', 'non replicable' are all totally crap!

The reason MSG is so popular is because it causes a tongue craving irrespective of the quality of the food involved. I've been able to personally experience this. In the US, I used to purchase FritoLay chips [Flaminhot variety] and Schlotzsky's Jalapeno chips because I loved the taste so much. Later, because I ate them so much, I started experiencing a sort of disorientation in my head even after 1-2 chips. To their credit, they had listed MSG clearly as an ingredient in the wrapper. Only then, was I able to compare both, isolate MSG, do additional research and find out all about it. This never happened with a Lays brand that carried no MSG - for example, wavy original chips.

Read through this write-up on MSG at healthdangers.com. Funnily, I found a mouthshut review [go to the end] where someone has remarked the exact same thing as in this post.

Too bad, MSG is made to excite the tongue and children are in love with such products. I think it is upto adults to gently educate them and create a culture where these habits are not encouraged. Too much at stake for taste and cash!

Rams said...

That's informative... Is that MSG present in the masala (tastemaker) or the noodle itself? I don't use the tastemaker (owing to the -ve pranic stuff in it)and I prepare my own curry and use the noodle part alone...

Deepak said...

That might help. You're a known nutcase anyway. Yeah, I think the MSG is mainly from the powder - and the taste that makes Maggi so popular is from the powder.

But for separate reasons, I don't think the noodle portion is exactly healthy either. I remember reading multiple reasons for it - but hey, new school of thought says even white rice is best avoided!

Anupama said...

Do you know Maggi and Horlicks ads are banned in UK? They cannot promote them as health food (Taste bhi, health bhi,stronger, sharper)... or anything healthy for that matter because they are not! Period.

Can you believe this study that says "Drinking diet soda helps reduce kidney stones" Got to kick the TOI editors for even printing this story. Just another industry sponsored bull.

Though I don't have scientific evidence et all, un-natural i.e not prepared immediately/at home, and tasty food must be approached with caution.

Actually, Maggi curry is benign compared to the chilly powder you use at home, coz it is terribly adulterated. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?issueid=101&id=16193&option=com_content&task=view&sectionid=20

Its really saad... what are we subjecting our kids to! Maggi indeed! Someone on TV say its "healthy" and we promptly give it to our noisy kids to keep them quiet and live with the satisfaction we have done our best. This is really really bad.

Home made masalas and curry. Please do it, doesnt take much time- for ur mom anyway! :-)

Am taking efforts to go organic, found a store in chennai www.restore.org.in. Good for the planet, good for the body.

Deepak said...

Horlicks?!
That is news to me. At least I hope it's not harmful if not healthy. I grew up as a horlicks and boost boy!

Anupama said...

The case against Horlicks is that it does not promote health as advertisement claims. Just check the introduction line in the wikipedia entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horlicks

*empty laugh* And we give it to our children first thing in the morning. I suppose it isn't harmful otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I almost ended up in the hospital over an MSG experience. There are tons of hidden names for MSG and it is a serious health concern. Wikipedia is not a scientific database, so please be sure to dig deeper. Here is a short list of MSG and it's hidden names:
MSG
Monopotassium Glutamate
Glutamate
Glutamic Acid
Vegetable Protein Extract
Gelatin
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
Autolyzed Plant Protein
Sodium Caseinate
Senomyx
Calcium Caseinate
Textured Protein
Yeast Extract
Yeast Food or Nutrient
Autolyzed Yeast
"natural flavoring"
"spices"
whey protein (occassionally, check to see)

Deepak said...

"Anonymous",
Lovely list (crazy thing to say about a topic like this right?) - thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

Ahaha! And I am not really "anonymous", I am actually a Nutritionist in Austin, TX and I just happen to have researched a lot about MSG. It's a tough one because it is hidden in so many products. It 'can be' related to hyperactivity in children. I don't want to go overboard but like many chemical additives, MSG actually has a fatality load of 10mg, but people can experience symptoms after ingesting just 1 mg. I am a healthy, organic eater and when I went through my kitchen to look at the other names on my labels, HALF of my food went into the trash. And I mostly shop local, fresh, farmer's market. I was really bummed to realize that a lot of ethnic foods also contain MSG, they just simply call it something else (as it is a flavor enhancer, it is used A LOT in the restaurant business). Mexican food uses a spice array called Sazon, almost ALWAYS containing MSG. And of course, Asian food is notorious for enhancing with MSG. Don't be fooled by "no MSG added", that simply means there IS already MSG in the food, and they didn't add more. Since MSG is actually considered a poison, I am surprised the FDA allows it to go under other names. However, remember that it only has to be less than 77% MSG to be called something else. So if a spice has 75% MSG in it, they can still call it by another name!!! Why am I so interested in it??? Because it actually causes me to have heart palpitations and I am 32 years old. I always know when I eat something that has MSG - it is actually very dangerous to those of us that are sensitive.... good luck on your quest!!!

Celeste Brinson, MS

Deepak said...

Celeste,
Thanks a lot. All this is important info. It is sad, we're just starting all this in India and we're going to go through the entire cycle again. From past history, it is going to be a difficult one to change. Oh, the children!

Anupama said...

http://www.truthinlabeling.org/II.WhereIsMSG.html

ha! The damn ajinomoto ads have started again.

Deepak said...

Wow - that sort of nails it. No benefit of doubt :)

As I like it said...

It is funny I should come across this post now. My Maggi-frequency has reduced considerably. I should probably write about this sometime soon.

As I like it said...

It is funny I should come across this post now. My Maggi-frequency has reduced considerably. I should probably write about this sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

Ahaha! And I am not really "anonymous", I am actually a Nutritionist in Austin, TX and I just happen to have researched a lot about MSG. It's a tough one because it is hidden in so many products. It 'can be' related to hyperactivity in children. I don't want to go overboard but like many chemical additives, MSG actually has a fatality load of 10mg, but people can experience symptoms after ingesting just 1 mg. I am a healthy, organic eater and when I went through my kitchen to look at the other names on my labels, HALF of my food went into the trash. And I mostly shop local, fresh, farmer's market. I was really bummed to realize that a lot of ethnic foods also contain MSG, they just simply call it something else (as it is a flavor enhancer, it is used A LOT in the restaurant business). Mexican food uses a spice array called Sazon, almost ALWAYS containing MSG. And of course, Asian food is notorious for enhancing with MSG. Don't be fooled by "no MSG added", that simply means there IS already MSG in the food, and they didn't add more. Since MSG is actually considered a poison, I am surprised the FDA allows it to go under other names. However, remember that it only has to be less than 77% MSG to be called something else. So if a spice has 75% MSG in it, they can still call it by another name!!! Why am I so interested in it??? Because it actually causes me to have heart palpitations and I am 32 years old. I always know when I eat something that has MSG - it is actually very dangerous to those of us that are sensitive.... good luck on your quest!!!

Celeste Brinson, MS

Deepak said...

Horlicks?!
That is news to me. At least I hope it's not harmful if not healthy. I grew up as a horlicks and boost boy!

Anupama said...

Do you know Maggi and Horlicks ads are banned in UK? They cannot promote them as health food (Taste bhi, health bhi,stronger, sharper)... or anything healthy for that matter because they are not! Period.

Can you believe this study that says "Drinking diet soda helps reduce kidney stones" Got to kick the TOI editors for even printing this story. Just another industry sponsored bull.

Though I don't have scientific evidence et all, un-natural i.e not prepared immediately/at home, and tasty food must be approached with caution.

Actually, Maggi curry is benign compared to the chilly powder you use at home, coz it is terribly adulterated. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php?issueid=101&id=16193&option=com_content&task=view&sectionid=20

Its really saad... what are we subjecting our kids to! Maggi indeed! Someone on TV say its "healthy" and we promptly give it to our noisy kids to keep them quiet and live with the satisfaction we have done our best. This is really really bad.

Home made masalas and curry. Please do it, doesnt take much time- for ur mom anyway! :-)

Am taking efforts to go organic, found a store in chennai www.restore.org.in. Good for the planet, good for the body.

Radha said...

A tit bit information, from my experience of handling a few children classes,75% of the children say that their most favorite food is maggi. I leave it to both of you (Deepak and Rams) to research and conclude if msg is really a health concern. If it is, then it is quite a challenge to create the necessary awareness to the public.

I recently met a 4 year old child wearing thick glasses. Her aunt said she has problems with her eye sight ever since her birth and they found this out when they saw that the child is able to watch TV only from a short distance. I told her that it has become quite common these days to meet children below 10 wearing thick glasses. This was not so before 15 or 20 years. She said this happens if the baby is scanned when she\he is 2 or 3 months old in the mother's womb. This is the time that the baby's eye development takes place in the womb. Generally Doctors do not advice scanning before 5 or 6 months of pregnancy, but if there is any complication\problem in the pregnancy, they do. This answers why this problem was not common before 20 years of time, when scanning was not so common.

If this is true, this is a matter of concern too.

 
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