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INGREDIENTS AND FLAVOURS

MSG present even in baby & infant foods in a disguised form: Dr Hassan
Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
Get any food items from your local store, MSG is most likely lurking there somewhere, according to Dr Nisar ul Hassan of Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK). The doctor made this startling disclosure while speaking to FnB News in a long-winding telephonic chat recently.

Further, in a statement issued on behalf of the association, the doctor pointed out that if a product contained MSG then it had to be labelled as 'contains MSG.' But in many cases that is not done. MSG, as is known, is used as a flavour enhancer and is one of the most harmful food additives. Presence of MSG in Nestle’s Maggi instant noodles, which created a controversy sometime back, has brought the additive in sharp focus.

Dr Hassan shared, “Widespread use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in food as flavouring agent could pose serious health risk. MSG is potentially harmful to human life. MSG, which is used to enhance taste, is one of the most harmful food additives. It is used everywhere - in processed food, restaurants, barbecues, school cafeterias and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.”

He added, “Most fast foods use MSG in their fries and drinks to enhance the flavour and get you addicted to their food. The food industry is fully aware of the harmful effects of this toxic substance, yet they use it.”

Giving an insight into the presence of MSG in foods that were assumed to be free of the additive, Dr Hassan stated that it was either missing on the ingredients label or disguised under different titles making it difficult to detect it.

Dr Hassan noted, “Especially, here in the state of Jammu and Kashmir due to unavailability of food testing laboratory and lack of sampling of food items by the food safety officers and food safety department, it is very difficult to ensure that the food is safe.”

Need for revival
“The research papers or the studies based on which MSG is allowed to a certain limit was also conducted decades ago. There is a need for the apex regulator to ‘re-study’ it to arrive at a conclusion,” observed Dr Hassan.

Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration(USFDA) considers MSG to be generally recognised as safe (GRAS), but also states, “when the status of a substance has been reevaluated, it will be deleted from this part (i.e. GRAS), and will be issued as a new regulation under the appropriate part, which means that its status can be changed to 'prohibited for use in food,' if the need arises i.e., if MSG is found to be unsafe for human health.

“Even the direction issued for the enforcement authorities acknowledges booking of food manufacturers against MSG. It reads, to ensure that consumers are facilitated to exercise informed choices in respect of what they eat, proceedings may be launched against manufacturers in case of mislabelling. Thus, fresh studies will address the issue giving it a new direction as safety of consumers is at stake,” the doctor said.

Health concerns
There are certain observational studies that link glutamate consumption to weight gain and obesity. Since its introduction, in the past 30 years, the incidence of diabetes has doubled. Certain people experience a 'symptom complex' of burning sensation, palpitation, chest pain and headache after taking glutamate containing meal.

Raising serious health concerns, Dr Hassan said, “MSG is a proven excitotoxin that results in brain damage and can trigger neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. High levels of glutamate intake during pregnancy can cause learning disabilities, behavioral abnormalities and endocrine problems later in baby’s life. There is anecdotal evidence of a link between MSG and cancer. A researcher and author of the book titled 'Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills' asserts that excess consumption of MSG promotes cancer growth.”
 
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