Paul the editor needs coffee, and, ideally, chippies, to function at a happy optimum. So during our edit session right now, we just powered through a big bag of chippies. Struck by just how much we powered through them, we looked at the ingredients.

And lo and behold, we discovered flavour enhancers 621 and 635.

621 is monosodium glutamate, MSG. 635 is ribonucleotides (affectionately known as Ribo-rash, for the characteristic rash it causes in the unfortunate.)

Ribonucleitides multiplies the taste impact of MSG by 10-15 times. (Eek!) So you can bet that they are going to co-occur a lot.

And then we just freaked ourselves out for a while looking up all the numbers and the freaky side effects. (Apparently there are bad anti-oxidants, too. I’d thought they were mostly good.) And just how much they are everywhere in food. NZ has comparatively good labelling laws, too, from the sounds of things.

I don’t eat much processed food, and less so junkfood, but yeah. Creepy shit. (In my wallet I have a bit of card with a list of things to watch out for. Guess I should be using it.)

4 Responses to “Consumed”

  1.   2trees
    July 17th, 2009 | 12:07 am

    Could ya publish the card (from wallet) so we can see what we all need to look out for? Or should we just not be lazy and research it ourselves?

  2.   michael
    July 18th, 2009 | 4:29 pm

    I was suprised to find out while in Japan that MSG was developed after Japanese scientists determined which amino acids make food taste “umami” (English doesn’t have a word for this flavour, but it’s as understood as sweet, sour, salty, etc.). It’s an exact umami synthesis.

  3.   Administrator
    July 19th, 2009 | 8:00 pm

    That’s fascinating. MSG has a definite aftertaste presence thing going on. And variants of it occur pretty naturally in food, so I guess you could learn to recognise it.

  4.   Pearce
    August 1st, 2009 | 11:46 am

    It might be worth mentioning that MSG is actually just a form of salt, originally derived from seaweed. Compared to the normal sodium salt that is sprinkled liberally over many different foodstuffs in NZ, MSG is actually less unhealthy; for example it is far less likely to lead to heart disease. It contains nothing that is not found naturally in most common foodstuffs.

    There’s been a lot of alarmism about MSG over the years, but this is not backed up by any actual scientific evidence.

    Ribonucleitides may well multiply the taste effect of MSG many times, but too much MSG actually spoils the taste of food in the same sort of way that too much salt does, so if the food contains ribonucleitides this means it will actually contain a very low amount of MSG. (Or it will just taste so bad you won’t want to eat it.)