This is the story of a racist myth that began with a light-hearted letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968 and subsequently exploded in North American culture — in direct opposition to every shred of scientific evidence — becoming so prevalent that credulous eaters buy into it to the point of experiencing its effects on a purely psychosomatic basis.
It’s often been called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” and its premise is that MSG in Chinese food results in unpleasant allergic reactions. Interestingly enough, higher quantities of MSG in non-Chinese foods are not reported to have the same effects. MSG is a naturally occurring amino acid, and some of the highest levels of MSG a North American consumer is likely to ingest come in vine-ripened tomatoes, aged cheese, and dry-aged steak — yet there is no reported medical phenomenon known as “Italian Food Syndrome” or “American Steakhouse Syndrome”.
Monosodium glutamate was first isolated from the seaweed kombu, commonly used in the Japanese broth dashi, by biochemist Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University in 1908. He named its taste umami because it differed from the five conventional flavours of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and spicy. Ikeda patented his discovery and MSG became commercially available in 1909. It was found to enhance flavours with one third of the amount of sodium as traditional salt, i.e. sodium chloride. In this sense, monosodium glutamate is probably healthier than sodium chloride because it achieves flavour with reduced sodium levels.
MSG was immediately popular in Asia and became common in the North American food industry after World War II, used in baby food, canned soup, vegetable juice, frozen food, as well as seasoning mix brands such as Accent. Yet somehow in the 1960s, this popular food additive became associated with Chinese food and deemed a health hazard. Why? Because Chinese people, culture, and food have been targeted by widespread and effective racist hate campaigns in North America since the 19th century, buttressed by wild claims that the Chinese are “unclean”, carry diseases, are sexually-deviant opium addicts, inscrutable and sneaky, a Yellow Peril.
The 1968 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine which solidified the myth of MSG was actually written by a Chinese immigrant named Robert Ho Man Kwok, who described “numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, general weakness and palpitation” after eating in American Chinese restaurants. The letter opened the floodgates to a barage of letters and related articles complaining of headaches, dizziness, paralysis of the throat, tingling in the temples, tightness of the jaw, irregular heartbeat, depression, hyperactivity, and all manner of digestive ailments.
Given this preponderance of anecdotal evidence, numerous scientific studies have been performed since then attempting to identify this “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”. The funny thing is that no study has ever been able to do so. When people don’t know that they’re consuming MSG, they don’t suffer adverse reactions. All national and international food safety bodies have concluded that MSG is perfectly safe. People in Japan eat MSG every single day and the Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world.
Fear of MSG is a racist remnant of the Chinese Exclusion era which exists only in North America and has been thoroughly debunked by science. Yet racist socialization is so powerful that people actually experience physical effects such as headaches, depression, and indigestion based solely on their indoctrinated fear of Chinese people and Chinese food. Think it over next time you eat parmesan cheese or a vine-ripened tomato.
I had no idea…going to look more into this.
I’ve been complaining about the MSG myth for a long time, but I never stopped to think about it being linked to racism. Makes perfect sense.
I want to do one!
Okay so you reblog and a week later you’ll get this cutie in your inbox
After about a week a Pokemon will hatch!
Some people might get special Legendary, It all depends :)
It’s going to be any Pokemon from all the regions
and I promise I will do every each one of you.
This will be open until the 29th and then I will be sending the eggs off to you all :)
Hello. Everyone is healthy and doing well, right?
I’m writing here because I want to ask BABYs’ opinion on something.
Usually, lots of people give presents individually, under B.A.P’s or a member’s name. I’m very thankful for the way you all always appreciate and cherish us. That’s why we always work to give and spread the love we are given.
The date May 5th is coming soon. It’s Children’s Day.
We have a special relationship with One Love Disabled Infant Home and we’d like to spread some love there along with our BABYs.
Although my thoughts are lacking a bit right now, what I’d like to say is that I have a lot of dolls (toys) that BABYs have sent to me. There are many dolls (toys) in our dorm and in our company that aren’t being taken care of and are lonely. I would really like to keep all of the love you all have given me, but due to my lack of freedom and space, I cannot take care of 1000 friends so please put the blame on me. I am always cherishing the love you all give us. So, I have written this post to ask your opinions on donating these dolls to One Love Disabled Infant Home in celebration of Children’s Day.
Since these are all gifts you have sent to us as a group or a specific member, I decided it would be best to ask the opinions of BABYs instead of making a choice on my own. I think that it would make a heartwarming Children’s Day gift for our disabled infant friends. Also, these dolls would have new friends to share their hearts with. As well as this, it takes up too much space at the company building and interferes a bit with our work so I wanted to see if it would be okay to donate these dolls and spread the love around.
Although these dolls are only made of cotton and thread, these dolls can be a commitment for these children and may also turn out to be a precious gift. I felt these feelings when I was young and also understand them and am always thankful for the many presents BABYs give us.
I would really like to hear the important thoughts and opinions you have about this project that B.A.P and BABYs will be doing together. Even though this love is lacking in comparison to the amount we receive, I just had this small thought. I would be very thankful if BABYs could give us their opinions so we can review them with TS employees and come up with a good final decision.
I always live a grateful day. We will be a B.A.P that always communicates with BABYs. I will pray that BABYs will always have meaningful days and in turn, have healthy minds and bodies. Thank you.
Translated by busantoki - take out with credits! [Source]