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MSG Facts vs. Fiction Explained in Recent News Reports

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Science Friday, a nonprofit organization and trusted source for news about science, reports that there is no basis for claims that MSG may cause allergies. And a new study finds that umami flavor in the form of MSG promotes feelings of fullness, helping to satisfy appetite and potentially help with...

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New Video and Infographic Explain Why MSG is Perfectly Safe

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According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), monosodium glutamate (MSG) has suffered from inaccurate consumer perceptions for too long - so the non-profit organization has decided to put the consumer myths about MSG to rest. In a new video released in August 2014, ACS corrects the myths about ...

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Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate is common throughout nature. It is a component of your body and your foods. The taste-imparting property of glutamate has long been used around the world to enhance the palatability of foods.

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MSG Safe Use

MSG Safe Use

Over one hundred years ago, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University discovered the taste that is now recognized internationally as “umami.” It has been established for more than 10 years now that umami, which is the taste imparted by monosodium glutamate (MSG), stands alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter as one of the five recognized basic tastes.

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Umami Taste Sensing

tasting food.jpgThe appreciation of taste starts with the taste receptors on the tongue. Taste receptors are on microvilli of taste bud in papillae, which are on the rough side of the tongue. Taste buds are small sensory organs composed of several taste cells, which react to taste stimuli. A stimulus reaches the microvilli of the taste cells within the taste buds through the pores on top of the buds. With the activation of these taste cells, a message is transmitted to the brain via the nerves.


Recent studies on taste physiology have been providing us with new knowledge on the mechanisms for taste reception. During eating, taste substances, including glutamate, are received by the receptors on our tongue. There are separate systems for receiving each basic taste. When receptors receive taste substances, such as glutamate, sucrose or caffeine, taste information is transferred to the brain, as a result we are able to recognize the different tastes.


In 2000, a research group in the US discovered a receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor type 4 variant (mGluR4), for glutamate on the tongue. Since, then many researchers around the world have found and identified new receptors for umami.


In 2006, a Japanese research team found that there were glutamate receptors, particularly metabotropic glutamate receptor type 1 variant (mGluR1), in the stomach tissue. As the umami taste sends signals to the brain through the taste nerves after activation of its receptors on the tongue, umami receptors in the stomach also send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the nerve that transfers sensory information of ingested foods from various alimentary organs, including the stomach, to the brain to regulate digestion of food. Upon receiving those signals, the brain responds by preparing the stomach for the digestion of food taken into the body via other nerve fibers of the vagus.


A similar response to umami occurs in the pancreas that also prepares for digestion in the small intestine under the central command of the brain.

The umami taste is often described as a meaty, broth-like, or savory taste, and is independent of the four traditional basic tastes -- sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It has been established for more than 10 years now that umami, which is the taste of monosodium glutamate, is one of the five recognized basic tastes.

Basic Taste Stimulus Threshold (%)
Sweetness Sucrose 0.5
Sourness Acetic acid 0.012
Saltiness Sodium chloride 0.2
Bitterness Quinine 0.00005
Umami Monosodium glutamate (MSG) 0.03