monosodium glutamate

a white, crystalline, water-soluble powder, C5H8NNaO4·H2O, used to intensify the flavor of foods. Also called MSG, sodium glutamate. Cf. glutamic acid.
[1925-30]

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also called  monosodium L-glutamate , or  sodium glutamate 

      white crystalline substance, a sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid, that is used to intensify the natural flavour of certain foods. MSG was first identified as a flavour enhancer in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of Japan, who found that soup stocks made from seaweed contained high levels of the substance. His discovery led to the commercial production of MSG from seaweed; it is now produced using a bacterial fermentation process with starch or molasses as carbon sources and ammonium salts as nitrogen sources. MSG is an important ingredient in the cuisines of China and Japan. The substance is naturally present at high levels in tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

      MSG elicits a unique taste, known as umami, that is different from the four basic tastes (bitter, salty, sour, sweet). MSG does not enhance the basic tastes, but it does enhance the complex flavours of meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. It is used commercially in broths, soups, canned and frozen vegetables, flavouring and spice blends, gravies, meats, poultry, sauces, and in other combinations. It is also used to enhance the taste of tobacco and has been used medically to treat hepatic coma.

      There have been reports that, when ingested in large amounts, monosodium glutamate may produce such physical reactions as burning sensations, facial tightness or pressure, and a tingling sensation in some individuals. This hypersensitive reaction, first reported in 1968, is commonly called “Chinese restaurant syndrome” because cooks in some Chinese restaurants may use MSG extravagantly. Subsequent studies have shown no conclusive link between the syndrome and the consumption of normal levels of MSG, however.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • monosodium glutamate — n. The monosodium salt of the natural amino acid L glutamine ({C5H8NNaO4}), used as a food additive to enhance flavor; abbreviated MSG. It is usually marketed as the monhydrate ({C5H8NNaO4.H2O}). It is commmonly used in Chinese American… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • monosodium glutamate — ► NOUN ▪ a compound made by the breakdown of vegetable protein and used as a flavour enhancer in food …   English terms dictionary

  • monosodium glutamate — [män΄ə sō′dē əm] n. a white crystalline powder, NaC5H8NO4, derived from vegetable protein and used in foods as a flavor intensifier …   English World dictionary

  • Monosodium glutamate — This article is about the chemical compound. For its use in food, see glutamic acid (flavor). For glutamic acid in general, see glutamic acid. Monosodium glutamate …   Wikipedia

  • monosodium glutamate — [[t]mɒ̱nəsoʊdiəm glu͟ːtəmeɪt[/t]] N UNCOUNT Monosodium glutamate is a substance which is sometimes added to savoury food to make it taste better. The abbreviation MSG is also used …   English dictionary

  • monosodium glutamate — The monosodium salt of the naturally occurring l form of glutamic acid; used as a flavor enhancer that is a cause or contributing factor to “Chinese restaurant” syndrome; also used intravenously as an adjunct in treatment of encephalopathies… …   Medical dictionary

  • monosodium glutamate — mon|o|sod|i|um glu|tam|ate [ˌmɔnəuˌsəudiəm ˈglu:təmeıt US ˌma:nəsou ] n [U] [Date: 1900 2000; Origin: glutamate from gluten] ↑MSG …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • monosodium glutamate — n. Chem. a sodium salt of glutamic acid used to flavour food (cf. GLUTAMATE) …   Useful english dictionary

  • monosodium glutamate — noun Date: 1929 a crystalline sodium salt C5H8NO4Na derived from glutamic acid and used to enhance the flavor of food abbreviation MSG …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • monosodium glutamate — noun The mono sodium salt of the amino acid, glutamic acid; present in soy sauce; used as a condiment in Chinese and Japanese cooking, and as a food additive to enhance flavor and add the umami taste. Abbreviations: MSG, E621 …   Wiktionary

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