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    Monosodium glutamate, also known as sodium glutamate or MSG, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids. It was classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and by the European Union as a food additive. MSG has the HS code 29224220 and the E number E621. The glutamate of MSG confers the same umami taste of glutamate from other foods, being chemically identical. Industrial food manufacturers market and use MSG as a flavor enhancer because it balances, blends and rounds the total perception of other tastes. Trade names of monosodium glutamate include Ac'cent, Aji-No-Moto, and Vetsin.


    Professor Kikunae Ikeda from the Tokyo Imperial University isolated glutamic acid as a new taste substance in 1908 from the seaweed Laminaria japonica, kombu, by aqueous extraction and crystallization, and named its taste "umami". He noticed that the Japanese broth of katsuobushi and kombu had a peculiar taste that had not been scientifically described at that time and differed from sweet, salty, sour and bitter. To verify that ionized glutamate was responsible for the umami taste, Professor Ikeda studied the taste properties of many glutamate salts such as calcium, potassium, ammonium, and magnesium glutamate. All salts elicited umami in addition to a certain metallic taste due to the other minerals. Among those salts, sodium glutamate was the most soluble and palatable, and crystallized easily. Professor Ikeda named this product monosodium glutamate and submitted a patent to produce MSG. Suzuki brothers started the first commercial production of MSG in 1909 as Aji-no-moto, meaning "essence of taste" in English.


    Pure MSG does not have a pleasant taste until it is combined with a consonant savory smell. As a flavor and in the right amount, MSG can enhance other taste-active compounds, improving the overall taste of certain foods. MSG mixes well with meat, fish, poultry, many vegetables, sauces, soups, and marinades. Since MSG mixes well with many foods, it can also increase the overall preference of certain foods like beef consommé. But like other basic tastes, except sucrose, MSG improves the pleasantness only in the right concentration: an excess of MSG is unpleasant. The optimum concentration varies with the type of food; in clear soup, the pleasantness score rapidly falls with more than 1 g of MSG per 100 ml.[13] There is also an interaction between MSG and salt (sodium chloride), and other umami substances such as nucleotides. With these properties, MSG can be used to reduce salt intake (sodium), which predisposes to hypertension, heart diseases and stroke.[14] The taste of low-salt foods improves with MSG even with a 30% salt reduction. The sodium content (in mass percent) of MSG is roughly a third of the amount (12%) than in sodium chloride (39%). Other salts of glutamate have been used in low-salt soups, but with a lower palatability than MSG.

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