â— Zebin Wang, Ph.D. of Food Engineering, USA, Senior Member of the American Food Technology Association
If only from the perspective of commercial marketing, chickens beat MSG is a very successful case. When the chicken essence appeared, the merchants publicized the fact that â€œMSG is harmfulâ€, and on the other hand they advocated â€œnaturalâ€ chicken essence. Just from the name, "chicken essence" has an advantage over "monosodium glutamate." So until today, I believe that "industrial synthetic MSG has various hazards," and "natural chicken is nutritious" is still very much in people.
In fact, MSG is not industrially synthesized. The original monosodium glutamate was found in kelp soup and later produced by grain fermentation. It has no essential difference with the production of traditional foods such as soy sauce, wine, rice wine and so on. Its chemical structure is sodium glutamate, and various proteins usually contain glutamic acid, which is hydrolyzed and released to form sodium glutamate. Typical examples are soy sauce, soybean meal, and cheese. There are some foods that naturally contain some free glutamate, and they also have a natural "umami", typically seaweed, potatoes, peas and so on. In fact, foods like kelp and cheese naturally contain more MSG than many people put in other dishes.
The saying â€œMSG is harmfulâ€ has always existed, and there are indeed many people who believe that â€œhow much MSG is eaten is how it worksâ€. The most bizarre statement still appeared in a very famous medical magazine in 1968. The harms of these legends have been carefully studied, but they cannot be reproduced. This means that in scientific research, the legend is not reliable. On the other hand, academic research also has experimental results that "a lot of MSG is harmful to rats." However, the "large amount" there is generally monosodium glutamate or MSG in foods is as high as 12%. This is quite different from what we commonly call "too much MSG in a dish."
Based on these scientific findings, it is now considered by academics and national authorities that monosodium glutamate in food is harmless and healthy. Even the EU, which is very conservative in terms of food safety, lists MSG as the safest category.
In addition to MSG producing â€œumamiâ€, scientists have discovered that some nucleotides not only produce their own umami taste but also increase the umami taste by many times when used with MSG. They are called â€œtaste nucleotidesâ€. It was first isolated from shiitake mushrooms and dried fish. The key ingredients of chicken essence are "monosodium glutamate" and "taste nucleotides", which have nothing to do with chickens. As for other ingredients, it is embellishment. Early chicken spirits added some chicken powder so that they could claim to be "chicken essence". In fact, the chicken powder contributes little to the taste of the chicken essence, and the proportion of the chicken powder that is added later becomes less and less, and even more, it is â€œhanging chicken head and selling monosodium glutamateâ€.
In general, monosodium glutamate and chicken essence are actually the same kind of thing, but the taste of chicken essence is more abundant. If you like their taste, you donâ€™t need to worry about â€œharmful to healthâ€; if you donâ€™t like it, you donâ€™t need to force yourself. They don't provide any nutrients -- even though the chicken name suggests "chicken essence."
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