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'If MSG Is So Bad For You, Why Doesn't Everyone In Asia Have A Headache?'

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What does chiefly animate Japanese soups and broths is an amino acid called glutamate. In the best ramen shops it's made naturally from boiling dried kombu seaweed; it can also come from dried shrimp or bonito flakes, or from fermented soy. More cheaply and easily, you get it from a tin, where it is stabilised with ordinary salt and is thus monosodium glutamate.

This last fact is of little interest to the Japanese - like most Asians, they have no fear of MSG. And there lies one of the world's great food scare conundrums. If MSG is bad for you - as Jeffrey Steingarten, the great American Vogue food writer once put it - why doesn't everyone in China have a headache?

Read the whole story at The Observer

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