Compound: Monosodium Glutamate
The IUPAC name of this compound is sodium 2-Aminopentanedioate. Monosodium Glutamate has common trade names such as Accent (U.S.), Vetsin (Philippines), and Ajinomoto (Japanese).
Figure 1- Labeled Monosodium Glutamate Line structure
For the synthesis of Monosodium Glutamate, the molecule alpha-ketoglutarate undergoes glutamate dehydrogenase to produce L-glutamic acid. The pH is adjusted to 3.2 causing the pure glutamic acid to slowly crystallize. The end product is recovered by filtration and is neutralized to an acidity (pH) of 7 with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), resulting in the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which can then be decolorized and recrystallized for final packaging as MSG.
Wastewater is also produced from this synthesis reaction as a by-product. This wastewater is unnecessary and therefore filtrated because the monosodium glutamate is needed in its crystal form. During this synthesis process, the wastewater is removed because the wastewater has minor toxicity levels that can slightly affect the seed germination and elongation of neighbouring plants.
Monosodium Glutamate can be used for dietary supplements, drugs, and cosmetics. Overall MSG is considered a flavor enhancing ingredient that is used extensively by the food industry to enhance the natural flavor of various foods. This chemical gives a craving effect to the food where the person consuming it experiences a unique flavour. This flavour enhancer can be used to improve the taste of meat, fish, vegetables, and soup. Monosodium Glutamate is manufactured for use as pharmaceuticals and health foods at a worldwide annual production of 2000 metric tons.
According to Health Canada, Monosodium Glutamate is not a health hazard. However, some people may have sensitivity to the glutamate part of MSG which can produce symptoms like blurred vision, burning sensation, chills/shakes, and headaches.
Studies on MSG where performed on mice which yielded surprising results. When 3 mg of Monosodium Glutamate was injected into newborn mice, 90% became noticeably obese. The lipid content in the mice had been increased by 120%. This study received from the US National Library of Medicine proves that obesity is a potential side-effect from the consumption of MSG.
During the processing phases of monosodium glutamate, toxic wastewater is discharged. This wastewater from the production of MSG has had minor effects that affected seed germination and elongation on neighbouring plants. Despite much research conducted on MSG wastewater, it was concluded that minor toxilogical effects were caused to neighbouring plants from the wastewater discharged into the environment. The overall impact on the environment from this wastewater was minimal.
Monosodium Glutamate contains 1/3 of the amount of sodium as salt, which is why it`s commonly used in recipes and majority of flavoured chips to enhance taste and keep the sodium intake at a minimum. Another interesting fact is that when you consume foods that contain Monosodium Glutamate, you become hungrier. This is one of the many advantages of Monosodium glutamate for the food industry, because they want you to buy more of their food.
Citations on following page
Food Additives & Ingredients. (2012, November 19). Questions and Answers on Monosodium