Monday, March 30, 2009

The MSG scare

I am pissed.

The blogger at the boy who knew too much claims that, in his own words, that he has a heightened sensitivity to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and that many westerners experience the 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome' when eating MSG-laden food. In particular, based on absolutely no rigorous medical research, he believes that Chinese people have some special ability to clear MSG from their system due to genetic adaptation whereas westerners don't.

This is of course bunkum because:

1. Glutamates occur naturally in food, especially fermented/aged ones like soy sauce, fish sauce, ripe tomatoes, meat, and Parmesan cheese. The Italians get on fine with tomatoes and cheese.
2. Our bodies make glutamate on its own and breast milk is especially high in glutamate to entice babies to suckle.
3. MSG was only chemically isolated in the 20th century. Hence, its use as a food additive started only in the 20th century. Pray tell, how did Chinese people adapt to something they have only started adding to their food barely a century ago?
4. Marmite, frequently cited as the most-missed foodstuff by British expatriates (of whom the blogger is one), is a yeast-extract that contains very high concentrations of glutamates, much more than soy sauce. They use it on their toasts and in their soups. Mysteriously, you never hear about the Brits feeling dizzy or getting headaches from their beloved Marmites. Ditto for Vegemite, the perennial Australian favourite.
5. Glutamates are used extensively in flavouring chips, crisps, fast food, canned soups, etc, all of which are consumed in copious amounts in the UK. Apparently, one never hears of the Brits suffering from an epidemic of the so-called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

Moral of the day: Don't make baseless claims about something you know squat about, even if you have many gifts (or so you claim). Ching Chong also has access to the internet.

18 comments:

skeptic said...

He appears to be a man who knows too little. :)

BTW check out this link

http://sgblogs.com/blog/singapore-daily-singaporedaily/2811

skeptic said...

sorry the link was actually

http://soojenn.blogspot.com/2009/03/dialects-mysteries-of-singlish.html not the one I posted

soojenn said...

Well the internet is not a place to load your bulls..t like what the "boy wo knew too much" seems to be doing.

Then he thinks he can censor out people who tink otherwise. I initially found his site interesting.. well for a very short span of time.. I don't visit this site anymore, only occassionally to see what new bulls..it he has written, like you know the MSM or TOC, to get entertained. LOL.

Like skeptic puts it, he is the nemisis of what he thinks he is. Gifted? mmm I wonder.

Fox said...

I posted a comment on his blog pointing out that Marmite, a firm British favourite, is actually quite high in MSG, but I don't expect him to post my comment given his history of censoring comments that show him up.

The air of self-importance and superiority that he puts on is quite entertaining. By not allowing comments that factually contradict him, he merely reveals the thin-skinned hypocrite that he is. Talk is cheap for someone like him.

Valentine Cawley said...

Contrary to the nonsense that is posted here, the Chinese processing of glutamate is based on medical research that I read several years ago. I shall try to source it and link to it from my blog in due course.

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome has a name, because it exists. It is the typical set of reactions to MSG by those not well suited to it.

Fox's comments have been posted regarding MSG on my site. I suggest that Fox actually reads the site in question.

Soojenn posted a lot of libellous material concerning me on his/her site. I call that irresponsible at best...as well as contravening the basic laws of expression of all developed societies.

Perhaps you should check out the research yourself before jumping to a conclusion. An adaptation to the presence of MSG can arise for other reasons than an exposure to modern MSG. For instance, Kombu is a rich natural source of glutamate...

The hostility I read here reminds me that civility is in short supply in Singapore. One day it will truly be a developed country...but it most certainly is not developed at this time, in the fullest sense of the word.

Have a good day.

Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Fox.

I don't censor comments that "show me up". No comments do that.

I do however prevent comments that my children might find offensive or that are libellous, scurrilous or particularly stupid.

Valentine Cawley said...

This link refers to research indicating that at least 25% of people (western, I understand) react to MSG.

Your post ignores the research, not mine.
http://www.worldwidehealthcenter.net/articles-445.html

skeptic said...

"The hostility I read here reminds me that civility is in short supply in Singapore. One day it will truly be a developed country...but it most certainly is not developed at this time, in the fullest sense of the word."

Just like the hostility at Cambridge( according to him)! A Singaporean.. wait I mean British university. :)

Talking about libel and censoring statements instead is actually more 'Singaporean' than 'British'.

It reminds me more of our PAP MPs.. rather than Labour or Tory..

Just take a look at the cut and thrust of British parliament and compare it with our 'esteemed' Lee who is thin-skin and always talks about libel.

Hmm.. maybe a Cambridge education does that to some people.

"I don't censor comments that "show me up". No comments do that. I do however prevent comments that my children might find offensive or that are libelous, scurrilous or particularly stupid."

Apparently knowing that marmite contains MSG is particularly offensive to some children.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001126.htm

MSG has not been proven as the culprit yet.

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15584

tomatoes are naturally high in MSG

http://health.discovery.com/encyclopedias/illnesses.html?article=197

Less than 15% of Americans are sensitive to MSG

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2005/jul/10/foodanddrink.features3

nice read too.

I shall repost this on the boy who knew too much blog too

Fox said...

Don't count on the self-proclaimed champion of truth and civility to publish your comments.

Anonymous said...

Well... he posted... and stated that

"There is plenty of evidence against MSG. There are numerous animal studies, for instance, showing significant harm to the organisms, in a wide variety of ways after excessive exposure.The reason that there are conflicting opinions on this is the same as the cigarettes and cancer issue: the matter is politicized, with industry lobbies trying to confuse the public."

regards

Fox said...

MSG is harmful in excessive quantities. In fact, in order to produce neurotoxic effects, you basically have to bypass the gastro-intestinal system and feed very high concentrations of it into the animal (a lab mouse) via an IV drip. In contrast, when the test subjects are fed very high concentrations of MSG, they show no symptoms.

There was a study in the 70s in which human subjects (westerners) were fed 10 times the normal level of pure MSG and the subjects were asymptomatic.

Once you know that the human body produces on average 50g of free glutamates daily, it becomes very difficult to believe that the extra 1g from ingested MSG will produce any debilitating symptoms.

Jimmy Mun said...

This Valentine Cawley is an ignorant racist who shoots his mouth off without any substantiation. As a husband to a primary school teacher, I have much issues with his libellous insinuations about singaporean primary school teachers.

Fox, thank you for your help exposing this hack.

Fox said...

He actually censored a lot of comments on his blog, even innocuous ones that simply linked to articles that plainly contradict his claims. Mind you, he claims that he is unable to publish comments because he is too busy to but finds the time to dig up all the articles that obliquely support his position.

Food safety authorities in the US, EU, Australia, China, Japan, etc have proclaimed MSG to be safe in amounts normally consumed by people and yet he insists that they are all wrong. Apparently, the concept of safety dosage escapes him.

No point getting angry with a hypocrite like him. Don't bother arguing with him unless it's in a setting where arguments cannot be censored.

Anonymous said...

I have had no trouble posting numerous comments on his blog. If you have had difficulty, it might be because you are attacking him, here. Why should he post anything from you?

Anonymous said...

Re. Racist.

There is nothing racist about him. He is married to an Asian woman! What is wrong with people like you? Oh, I know...she is the wrong race for you...so who is the racist now?

Fox said...

"Why should he post anything from you?

Because I don't censor any of his (or anyone's) comments on my blog, even those that are against me?

Anonymous said...

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/MSG%20Technical%20Report.pdf