Point of Inquiry

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.



Why Do People Love Umami but Fear MSG?

Why do people in the West love the taste of Umami and what it can do to food but have demonized monosodium glutamate or MSG as it’s commonly known? Why are more and more brands and restaurants are even promoting “MSG-free” foods and dishes. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy breaks down this culinary disconnect. Senapathy speaks with experts on Umami and MSG with representatives from Ajinomoto, the world’s largest seller of MSG which was founded by Kikunae Ikeda, the first to isolate the crystal salt of the amino acid glutamate.

Tia Rains, PhD, is currently Senior Director of Public Relations at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition. She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of food and nutrition. As Senior Director of Public Relations, one of her goals is the advancement of credible research in nutrition and developing truthful messaging on new research results in the context of the body of nutrition evidence.

Mary Lee Chin MS, RD, is a registered dietician and has been involved in the field for over 40 years. She consults with food industry and commodity groups; including Monsanto, Ajinomoto and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

In 1968 a letter was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which described symptoms, “numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, and general weakness and palpitation.” as a result of eating food from a Chinese restaurant. This caused what is now known as the Chinese-Restaurant Syndrome and has led to years of research into MSG and its impact on health. Just what are the facts surrounding monosodium glutamate, just how powerful are marketing and branding when it comes to food, and how do mice play into all of this? 

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Truth About MSG and Your Health - Written by Kavin Senapathy
Accent Flavor Enhancer
Does monosodium glutamate really cause headache? : a systematic review of human studies

What was that great music you heard?

“Shimmering Lights” by Punch Deck / CC BY 3.0

“Wahre” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Building the Sled” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

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 2019-07-11  1h11m