Is MSG bad for you or is mass aversion to it just a cultural oddity?


Monosodium glutamate is eaten without problems in many countries, yet in the West there is a strange cultural aversion to it. James Wong investigates what’s going on


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24 February 2021

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MSG is widely associated with East Asian restaurants, but it also occurs naturally in many foods such as cheese and tomatoes

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DURING my master’s degree, I lived high up in the mountains of rural Ecuador, studying the practices of traditional Andean medicine. I was fascinated by beliefs of culturally specific syndromes, like susto, thought to be caused by spiritual attack, resulting in insomnia, depression and anorexia, or mal de ojo, in which a stare from another person can cause severe fever, diarrhoea and even death in children.

What always stood out when I asked about the basis of …

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