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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What foods typically contain MSG?

    Related Topic
    I am very health conscious and have heard that some restaurants put MSG in their foods. Where am I most likely to find this to I know to avoid it?
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  • Hanan Saleh specialises in infant & child nutrition. With additional qualifications from the Royal Hospital for Children in Melbourne Victoria. Hanan can help you with … View Profile

    MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. It is a fancy word for glutamate, which is an amino acid we use. It’s sodium, which is better known as salt, added to it. It is manufactured and simplified. It's added to a lot of foods that we probably don't know about. In Australia, many factories must label food when MSG is added. There is a certain additive code by the numbers 621 that most people know about. If they want to avoid MSG, they tend to look for those numbers. Other things that you should know about MSG is sometimes it's labeled as natural flavoring, and you can't get around it. It's important to know that sometimes when you're trying to avoid MSG, it is found in a lot of products that say, “yeast extra extract, high vegetable protein, HPB, or natural flavoring.” If you want to know what restaurants to avoid, Chinese and Japanese generally are the ones that are known to contain significantly high amounts of MSG. They don't have to declare it in restaurants or take away foods, so it's best if you ask the chef or the person serving you.

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    Sarah George graduated from Deakin University with a Master of Dietetics. In the following years she has completed further training in paediatric nutrition at the … View Profile

    MSG is a food additive called monosodium glutamate, which is often added to food to enhance the flavour. It’s typically found in some processed foods such as flavoured chips and two minute noodles but if you are unsure then check the food label. In Australia and New Zealand any packaged food that contains MSG must be declared on its label either by name or number (numbers 620-625 are all the forms of MSG found in foods). Restaurants and cafes do not have to declare the presence of MSG in their foods, so if you are concerned or you think you are sensitive to them then you should ask if they are being used.

    A small number of people are very sensitive to glutamate (which is in MSG) and can react to the small amounts that naturally occur in everyday nutritious foods.  If you suspect this is you, or you react to MSG but can’t always identify the obvious cause of your symptoms, you should consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who specialises in food intolerance.  It’s not recommended to eliminate otherwise nutritious food without expert dietary advice.

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