What Does “No MSG” Mean? | Yit Hong Pte Ltd

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What Does “No MSG” Mean? | Yit Hong Pte Ltd

What Does “No MSG” Mean?

What Does “No MSG” Mean?



There are but a few words that incite fear when they appear in food labels, and one of them is having the letters MSG in the ingredients list. But what does it mean and why does it sound so scary? Many people say that when they eat at Chinese restaurants, they end up feeling bloated after. Add to this the headache, nausea, the chest tightness and the sweating, and it feels like you ate something unhealthy.

These feelings are traditionally ascribed to consuming MSG, or monosodium glutamate. It’s a staple in many dishes, especially since it is known to bring out the umami. Umami is considered the “fifth” flavour, pertaining to the rich and meaty flavour that is neither sweet, nor sour, nor bitter, nor salty.

What is Umami?

For the longest time, people thought that there are only four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty, so much so that our tongues are supposedly plotted out with these basic palates.

But in 1908, a Japanese scientist by the name of Kikunae Ikeda wondered why the dashi stock is so tasty despite not being any of the above tastes. He was able to ascertain that there is a fifth basic taste, the one we can taste when we eat things like mushrooms, meats and seaweed. He called it umami, from the Japanese word “umai” or delicious.


Now, this fifth flavour became so popular that everybody wanted to enhance it in their dishes. Because of this, Ikeda mass-produced an additive that can trigger the umami receptors in our taste buds. This product is known as the crystalline dashes of MSG.

What is MSG?

Less Salt

In a nutshell, MSG is just an additive that enhances umami in things that we eat. Monosodium glutamate imitates the natural glutamate found in foods like tomatoes and parmesan cheese and it helps to make dishes tastier, especially in processed foods.

The problem is, as always, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. For some people, food additives trigger allergies, while some claim that MSG gives them the unfortunate misnomer “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, where one can feel numbness in the head or arms, flushing, and sweating, along with nausea, fatigue and headaches.

Studies show that these symptoms are not directly caused by MSG, but the stigma remains. People started looking for other ways to enhance their food without using the product, and for the most part, “No MSG” has become synonymous to having no additives in the food.


Having no added MSG nor additives means that the food you’re consuming is naturally delicious and needs no chemical enhancement. For example, AhLing’s luncheon meat boasts of having no MSG nor artificial colourings, which means that you’re getting not only the real flavour of the meat, but you’re also choosing a healthier alternative to the usual processed foods. It also does not have added sugar, and yet each bite is a savoury burst of delicious meatiness.

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