I helped a client to collate information on monosodium glutamate from scholarly articles and since then, I felt like throwing away all the bouillon cubes in my house. Of course, that is almost impossible because I have made that substance a compulsory ingredient for most of my dishes; it has become the master of my kitchen. But after I gathered information on this compound, I realised why my mother always refers to it as the silent killer.
I could remember a phone-in programme, where someone asked why monosodium glutamate has not been banned from the Nigerian market and the response given to that question. According to the health officer, whom the question was directed, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is just a proteinous substance, which some people react to. She made it sound as if MSG is as harmless as milk. I mean, the way she answered that question, it was as if since milk is allowed in Nigeria despite some people reacting to it, MSG should also be allowed. But fact remains that MSG has adverse effects, which can affect everyone that takes it in excess, especially after a long time of usage. It spares no one.
Yes, MSG has an overdose. From what I gathered, the highest daily intake of the substance is 60mg/kg of body weight. Anything higher than that floods the system with the substance and creates problems for the consumer/s. So when you hear manufacturers, chefs, and vendors telling you that MSG is safe, tell them they are not being honest.
In case you are wondering what that seasoning that makes you the best cook in the neighbourhood does, you may have to know that your mental, psychological, and nervous health are endangered by that sweet killer. You may also need to know that it attacks your liver and kidney each time you overdose on it. Your reproductive system is also in danger; even your DNA isn’t left out. Your skin and your digestive system are equally harassed by this substance. Now you can understand why you sometimes have diarrhoea after eating at parties.
You may say there is nothing to worry about because you will never overdose on the substance, but I’m here to tell you that it is very easy to take an excess of the substance. Go to the market today and take a look around you. What do you see hanging on the shelves of those people selling provisions, food condiments, and convenient foods? Pick up as many of them as you can and read their labels. Now, tell me, how many of them are free of MSG? Do this little survey and you will understand that your system is already over flooded with this substance. MSG is in almost everything we eat today, except unprocessed food items. We, actually, should be worried.
But what is more worrisome is the fact that the quantity of MSG contained in these products is not well specified. Ok, it is written on their packs; but how do you decide how many milligrams of the substance you take per serving? How can you tell if crushing in two cubes of your favourite seasoning into your pot of soup is safe for you? What is even the level of MSG in that cube you are holding? Did you notice they didn’t include that detail on the label? What are they hiding?
This article is not to take people’s sources of living away from them or to deny any of us the pleasure of eating palatable meals. This article is a call to those in charge to regulate how these manufacturers flood our markets with MSG. It is also a call for them to insist that the level of MSG in every serving/cube/sachet is specified. This article is also demanding that MSG should be given the same level of attention done to tobacco: the manufacturers should warn consumers of the risks they face each time they use their products.
As for us, we need to rediscover our African seasonings left for us by our forefathers. Think of your health each time you take this substance. Remember, health is wealth.