Understanding E622: MSG’s Food Flavor Enhancement

E622 is an item that you may have seen on the list of ingredients for pre-made or packaged foods. The food additive E622, whose more popular name is monosodium glutamate (MSG), has generated a great deal of interest and discussion. So, why is E622 used so often in food products, and what is it anyway?

What is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that may make food taste much savorier. An amino acid found in many foods, it is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. When added to food, MSG not only gives it its own flavour but also brings out the best in the flavours already there.

Historical Background of MSG

Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda first linked the savoury flavour of kombu seaweed to glutamic acid in 1908. This discovery laid the groundwork for modern-day monosodium glutamate (MSG). Monosodium glutamate became widely used once he found a technique to mass-produce it. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has grown in importance as a culinary and food industry component.

Production of E622

Hydrogenation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses is the usual method for making MSG. Yoghurt and soy sauce are both created using a method quite similar to this one. The chemical composition of naturally occurring glutamates and MSG, which is synthesised, differs, yet the two products are chemically identical.

Role of E622 in Food

Umami is one of the five fundamental tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami) that E622 is known to improve. Soups, broths, and snacks are the perfect places to use it since it amps up the flavour. Many foods include MSG, such as processed meats, canned soups, and snack items.

E622 in Processed Foods

To maintain and improve flavour during processing and storing, MSG is often added to processed foods. Instant noodles, frozen meals, and savoury snacks often include MSG to maintain their flavour for extended periods of time in storage. Because of this, MSG is a vital tool for the food industry.

Health Effects of E622

People have argued about MSG’s health implications for a long time. When ingested in typical dietary levels, MSG has been shown in several scientific studies to be harmless for the majority of humans. While it has not been shown that MSG causes moderate symptoms like headaches or nausea, which are frequently referred to as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” it is possible for some people to suffer these side effects.

MSG and Allergies

Some individuals claim to be sensitive to MSG, however actual sensitivities are rather uncommon. Chest discomfort, perspiration, and headaches are some of the possible symptoms. It is essential to carefully read food labels for those with sensitivities. For instance, in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that any product containing MSG must have it stated on the ingredient panel.

Regulations and Safety Standards

The FDA, EFSA, and JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) are among the regulatory agencies throughout the world that have determined that MSG is safe to consume. The safe consumption of MSG is assured within the limitations set by these organisations’ accepted daily intake levels.

E622 and Umami

The umami flavour is one of the five fundamental tastes and is often associated with savoury and meaty notes. The umami flavour, which adds depth and complexity to food, is mostly due to MSG. For this reason, MSG is well-liked by cooks and manufacturers of food goods who want to elevate their flavours.

Alternatives to E622

A number of natural flavour enhancers are accessible for those who choose to abstain from MSG. You may find foods that naturally contain glutamates, such tomatoes, mushrooms, and old cheeses, which can enhance the umami flavour. Even while these substitutes aren’t quite as strong as MSG, they may nevertheless provide a natural kick to food.

Public Perception and Controversy

Anecdotal tales of unpleasant responses and poor media attention have contributed to MSG’s mixed image throughout the years. Ongoing educational and scientific initiatives, however, are contributing to a shift in this view. More and more individuals are coming to the realisation that, when used correctly, MSG may be a safe and efficient flavour enhancer.

Culinary Uses of MSG

To give their foods more depth, chefs all around the globe utilise MSG. It’s a common ingredient in Asian cooking, especially for its flavorful addition to broths, sauces, and stir-fries. Seasoning soups, stews, and even roasted veggies with just a sprinkle of MSG may be a game-changer for home chefs.

Future of E622 in the Food Industry

Food flavour enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG) are always changing with the times. New techniques for making MSG or comparable substances may emerge as a result of advancements in food science. Regulatory changes and changing customer preferences will also impact MSG’s future applications.


Finally, monosodium glutamate, or E622, is very important when it comes to improving flavour. Scientific data suggests it is safe to ingest in moderation, despite some disagreement. People may make better dietary choices and savour their food more completely if they know about MSG and its advantages.


Is MSG harmful?

Indeed, the vast majority of individuals may safely ingest MSG in the proportions found in most foods, according to the results of several scientific studies. On the other hand, minor symptoms like nausea or headaches may occur in some people.

How can I avoid MSG if I’m sensitive to it?

Be sure to read food labels thoroughly, since any product that contains MSG must have it noted on the ingredient panel. Opt for whole, unadulterated meals that have natural seasonings added to them.

Are there benefits to consuming MSG?

Indeed, MSG elevates the umami flavour, imparting a fuller, more gratifying flavour to dishes. Additionally, it may lessen the desire for salt, which means less sodium consumed.

How does MSG differ from naturally occurring glutamates?

Natural glutamates and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are chemically indistinguishable. Glutamates are naturally occurring in foods such as tomatoes, cheese, and mushrooms, while monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often made synthetically.

Can MSG improve the flavor of home-cooked meals?

Sure thing! Just a pinch of monosodium glutamate (MSG) can do wonders for the flavour profile of savoury foods like soups, stews, and gumbo.


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