Monosodium Glutamate or Vetsin as it is commonly called by Filipinos is a very common flavor enhancer in foods. It is used to enhance the "umami" taste in foods. Umami is a Japanese term for tasty, and glutamate activates the umami receptors in our taste buds much like sugar activates the sweet taste.

Glutamate Contents of Foods

Food Size

Serving Glutamate
Tomato juice 1 cup 0.827
Tomato 3 slices 0.339
Meat loaf dinner 9 oz. 0.189
Human breast milk 1 cup 0.176
Mushrooms 1/4 cup 0.094
Parmesan cheese 2 Tbsp 0.047
Corn 1/2 cup 0.031
Peas 1/2 cup 0.024
Cow's milk 1 cup 0.016
Canned tuna (in water) 1/2 can 0.008
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

MSG is one of the most controversial food item today, as it is commonly attacked as being harmful to human health. Many claim that it is linked to Allergic reactions, Asthma attacks, Cancer, Diarrhea, and even fertility problems.

However, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology MSG is not an allergen meaning it could not cause allergic reactions. Plus the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several studies conclude that MSG consumption poses no long term adverse effects to human health.

Here are some institutions that approve of the safety of MSG for human consumption:
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Designates MSG as safe (Generally Recognized as Safe/GRAS), with common ingredients such as salt and baking powder. (1958)
  • National Academy of Sciences: Confirms the safety of MSG as a food ingredient. (1979)
  • Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations World Health and Food and Agricultural Organizations: Designates MSG as safe and places it in its safest category for food additives. (1988)
  • European Community's Scientific Committee for Food: Confirms MSG safety. (1991)
  • American Medical Association: Concludes that MSG is safe, at normal consumption levels in the diet. (1992)
  • FDA: Reaffirms MSG safety based upon a report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (1995)
In conclusion, we should not just believe in claims of the harmful effects of MSG to human health , as many international food and health agencies proved of its safety. On the other hand, we should still tolerate our intake of this food product. I am a firm believer that too much of something is bad, so we should limit our intake of MSG. I also believe that there after all the hundreds of studies done in the past about MSG, there can still be harmful effects that is just waiting to be discovered. So being cautious of what you put in your body and taking evrything in moderation is very important.


International Food Information Council Foundation -

Gonzales, E. "Does monosodium glutamate (vetsin) have adverse effects?". The Manila Bulletin