by CBS 60 Minutes
Produced by Grace Diekhaus
First Aired November, 1991
This is a Google Video that brings Ed Bradley back from the grave to tell us about MSG. He quickly runs through a long list of foods on the store shelves containing MSG. It might be quicker to list foods that don’t have it!
One doctor interviewed makes the point that there can be a wide range of symptoms associated with MSG reactions— headaches, heart palpitations, asthma, etc. Another doctor has done research indicating that MSG is especially hazardous to children and can cause brain damage. (The industry claims to have removed MSG from baby food, but it is still there in the form of hydrolyzed protein.) But Michael Taylor of the FDA says there is no point in alarming the public for no reason. The FDA maintains that MSG is safe in spite of all the studies that say otherwise.
Bradley checked with several major food producers including Heinz, Accent, Lipton, Progresso and Campbell’s. None was interested in commenting. Then he went to the Glutamate Association, which promotes use of MSG. Their comment was, “There is nothing wrong with MSG. It’s perfectly safe to use.” They declined to say anything on camera, however. They did provide a list of five doctors to consult. Ed Bradley did interview one of them, an allergist, on camera. Dr. Fred Atkins wanted to make clear that he does not represent the Glutamate Association. He went on to say he knows of no use or benefit for MSG other than a flavor enhancer. He was also quite clear that he believed more studies should be done. Apparently that is as close as the Glutamate Association can get to finding an enthusiastic endorsement from the medical profession. Even the food industry estimated that 2 percent of the population has a problem with MSG. In 1991 that small percentage translated into about five million people. I give 60 Minutes a thumbs up for this piece. They covered the basics well and the documentary is still as relevant today as when it was produced.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2008.