MSG in organic food

The Soil Association kindly provided me with this excellent explanation of how MSG is banned from organic food by law, and yet is still present in organic food...

Yeast includes proteins which include the amino acid, L-glutamic acid, bound into the chains. This is present in almost all proteins including human ones, and in for example milk protein.

When proteins containing glutamic acid are hydrolysed, whether by acid, alkali or by natural breakdown (autolysis) of yeast some MSG is formed. MSG whether from yeast or other sources stimulates taste buds, having a specific savoury flavour. It is also a flavour enhancer.

Yeast and yeast extract are permitted as additives in organic foods, therefore there will be some MSG in organic foods which have added yeast, or yeast extract. Similarly MSG is naturally present in soy sauce and in some other ingredients.

Adding pure MSG, whatever the source is not permitted as it is not a permitted additive.

Some people may be sensitive to MSG. It is not clear whether this is due to MSG itself, as it is a common component of all animals and most plants etc. They may just be sensitive to the D form which may be made in small quantities when some proteins are hydrolysed. Alternatively people may actually be sensitive to free glutamic acid, or to other protein breakdown products such as some of the small polypeptides. The vast majority suffer no detectable effect, as is shown by the widespread consumption of natural MSG throughout the Far East.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

Best wishes


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