I have been bemused (appalled?!) to observe the creeping return of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) back in the ingredient list of some high profile snack products. For those of you that are too young to remember the original controversy, MSG is an artificial flavor enhancer that was at one time found in many processed foods. Concerns about possible health concerns related to MSG date back as far as the late 1960s and began to gain momentum in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The negative publicity related to these concerns resulted in it all but disappearing from most foods during the past twenty years.
While I will leave the science and concerns to the food safety experts (google “MSG Health Concerns if you are interested) we are surprised to see MSG making somewhat of a comeback in this age of “clean” and “healthy” eating. There are a number of nationally branded snack foods that utilize MSG and we have seen some newcomers in the market using it as well.
MSG does have a noticeable taste. For me personally, it results in a kind of “fizzy” taste that is distinct but impossible to describe. Some believe it brings out the intensity of the flavor.
For us at Pretzel Pete, we have avoided using MSG like the plague. The use of this additive that has been tied to many health-related concerns is just not what we are about. We have made a great effort to achieve memorable flavor in our products without the use of MSG or any other artificial flavor enhancers. We are proud of these efforts and our avoidance of shortcuts. In fact, this is one of the cornerstones of our brand promise.
So, check those labels! If you taste something and it tastes a bit hyped up or off, it may be the MSG that you are tasting. Also, be aware of certain pseudonyms that MGS sometimes hide behind including: Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, and Natrium Glutamate among others. They are the same sheep – different clothing!