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PIA Press Release
2005/08/10

Monosodium glutamate is generally regarded safe - DOST

by T. Villavert

Iloilo City (10 August) -- As flavor enhancer for foods, monosodium glutamate (MSG) or commonly known as “betsin” is generally regarded safe.

This was revealed by Celeste C. Tanchoco, Scientist III, and Chief of the Science and Technology Division of Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), Taguig, Manila during the recent l6th Regional Nutrition Congress held at Grand Hotel, here.

Tanchoco said that as assessed by prestigious bodies, like the Food and Drug Authority in the U.S., the Scientific Committee for Food in the European Community and the independent body of biological researches, MSG is not hazardous to health.

In her lecture with hundreds of Provincial/Municipal Nutrition Council delegates coming from the six provinces of Region VI, Tanchoco said that MSG as a flavor enhancer for foods has been usedfor nearly a century. While there is already a natural glutamate occurrence in food, yet, when MSG is added it brings out the best flavor.

Tanchoco said that glutamate is amino acid, all our protein foods have amino acid content, and this is important in building our body tissues.Glutamates are also present in sea foods, meat, poultry, vegetable and fruits. Breast milk in humans has higher glutamate content when compared to cow or goat’s milk.

Glutamic acidwas first identified byRitthausen, a German scientist in l866, Tanchoco said. It was Dr. Ikeda, a Japanese scientist who noticed that there is an unidentified taste quality which is different from the basic taste- sweetness, sour, salty and bitter, present in meat fish, cheese, tomato and asparagus, Tanchoco said.

Dr. Ikeda detected this taste in soups prepared from the Japanese dried kelp called “Konbu”,and in l908 he discovered that the unidentified taste is contributed by glutamate, Tanchoco told the delegates to the Regional Nutrition Congress.

Tanchoco further said that the first commercially produced Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)was from Japan in the year l909.

“How is MSG produced?” Tanchoco said that MSG is produced through the fermentation of sugar cane and different starches of cassava, corn, rice and sago. Fermentation will bring about the formation of sugar and eventually produces glutamate acid through the action of microbes. (PIA) [top]

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