Feb 232006

Scott asks…

I was talking about this site with my coworkers and one of them told me that ramen contains MSG, which I was not aware of before. Do you know of any ramen brand that does not contain MSG? Maybe you could post my concerns on your site and see what others have to say about this.

Update: Top Ramen (from Nissin) does contain MSG

Update: Union Foods was nice enough to write back to me today. The answer is pretty much what we thought. Ramen has no MSG, but the seasoning packets do. According to Mary from Union Foods, “To be sure regardless of the brand that you are eating, check the label. Because people can have an allergic reaction the FDA requires that it is listed in the ingredients.”

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  39 Responses to “MSG?”

  1. You never knew? I think that most ramen or instant noodles not originally from Western countries (and even some of those. I know some Lipton not-so-instant soups have it as well) contain MSG, although I could be wrong. I know Maruchan does, as that’s the readily-available ramen brand in my neck of the woods. I’ve stopped using the seasoning packet lately and have been making my own broth, though. I use various MSG-free broth bases (not boullion cubes. And these jars of broth base last quite a while if you don’t use TOO much) and add my own veggies and other seasonings. 😀

  2. Min,

    I guess I never really paid attention…

  3. I am pretty sure it is only in the seasoning packet

  4. MSG naturally occurs everywhere, it is completely harmless

  5. what can you tend to put in ramen? im used to eating it plane but i’d like to try something new.

  6. Like one poster said msg occurs everywhere though in more foods then other like any ingredient, you even have some in you body. The below url leads to site with data about both msg and msc and its effects on the human body


  7. yes MSG occurs in a lot of food but some people have intolorences to it which is why it is receving so much press as of late….just like wheat gluten occurs in a lot of things but some people have intolorences/are allergic to it.

  8. MSG is in just about every processed food. Italian foods, canned foods, chicken/beef broths and boullions. People who think they are avoiding are eating all the time without knowing it.


  9. MSG only affects some people, and it seems the more accustom you are to eating it the less it affects you.

    MSG has no negative effects on me at all, even in rather large doses. Instead I find I can work better after eating it, contrary to what some people say.

    MSG has no (known) long-term effects, so if you don’t get any short-term ones, there is no need to worry.

    MSG is very common naturally in Japanese foods – the main reason it is added to cheaper Japanese foods is lack of a better quality ingredient (seaweed is the biggest source).

    Also you cannot be “allergic” to it, just less accustomed to it.

  10. Did you know that you can buy MSG by the pound at asian grocery stores? mmm…I am still alive today, so it can’t be all that harmful…I remember back in the mid 90s when MSG cause quite a stir in the media…not it is something that people don’t really care about anymore…nowadays, its corn syrup…oh, and saccharin…

  11. Why do they disguise MSG in the labels? http://shop.sixwise.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=175

    MSG killing your brain: http://www.joyfulaging.com/Excitotoxins.htm

    The defenders of MSG say it’s found in natural foods (like tomatoes, milk, and mushrooms), so it must not be harmful. But it occurs in almost ALL of the processed foods, and we americans consume a lot of those.. I guess my point is that a lot of things are unharmful in small doses, but too much of anything is usually bad. Just a warning to those who haven’t done their research yet 🙂

  12. Why do they disguise MSG in the labels? http://shop.sixwise.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=175

    MSG killing your brain: http://www.joyfulaging.com/Excitotoxins.htm

    The defenders of MSG say it’s found in natural foods (like tomatoes, milk, and mushrooms), so it must not be harmful. But it occurs in almost ALL of the processed foods, and we americans consume a lot of those.. I guess my point is that a lot of things are unharmful in small doses, but too much of anything is usually bad. Just a warning to those who haven’t done their research yet 🙂

  13. I wonder if there are ANY brands of boullion cubes that don’t contain msg..

  14. I LOVE MSG!

  15. If you guys are fine with consuming a drug additive in your meals then thats alright. I no longer eat ramen due to the very uncomfortable side effects I started experiencing. Just to contrast what someone said above, I didn’t catch on to the side effects until I started eating ramen more regularly. I was having a very uncomfortable heartbeat and I thought something was wrong with me.

    One day my friend came over and saw that I was making some ramen. He said I shouldn’t add too much of the packet because its loaded with MSG. Later that night I looked it up and sure enough, the syptoms I was experiencing were due to the MSG. Even when I used half of the packet or less, I would experience it.

    Understand the way that MSG works: Its an additive that excites the receptors in your brain to make you think what your eating tastes better than it actually does. Its a drug and ramen needs a huge does of it to:

    1.) Stay cheap.

    2.) Taste good.

  16. Jeremy et al…..

    MSG or L-Glutamic acid is found in the meat and bones of animals and vegitables. Your tongue has taste receptors for this 5th taste (Savory or Umami). If you eat soup be it natural or from a package you are eating it. Free MSG (not bound) is produced by Cooking or Fermintation of Meat/Dairy/Vegitables. If your soup is based on a stock it has MSG in it. The reason it is added to food is without it your food will not have that “cooked for hours” tasted that comes with slow cooking (which releases the bound Glutamic acid).

    Its not a drug you goober……

    It was discovered by reduction of Kelp stock in Japan in the early 1900’s.

    So lets review…..eating meat is bad for you (vegan). Eating cooked Vegitables is bad for you because it releases MSG. Eating ferminted dairy (chesse) is bad for you (MSG again)…..so your left with eating raw vegitables…..like a ….. cow. But then you will produce more methane gas (flatuce) and induce global warming……

    PS I eat my Ramen with Dave’s Insanity hot sauce and an egg stirred into it :).

  17. William, He was saying that even though MSG occurs naturally and we consume it all the time, it doesn’t mean it’s natural to add it to food in an unnatural way and consume MSG in large unnatural doses. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to understand this.

    Your taking mono-sodium glutamate and adding it to a food product to make it seem like it was “cooked for hours” when it really wasn’t. People allergic to it in large doses or can’t handle it in unnatural doses have to pay a price for that. Also, I can’t blame people for just thinking that it may not be a good idea to do this at all. Just because it’s found in nature doesn’t mean you can go consuming it in an unnatural way and still say “it’s natural”. If you know it won’t harm you go ahead. If your not sure and your just reading what you like and ignoring what you don’t like and still want to chance it, then chance it. Just leave the people who pay attention to what they put in their body and more importantly how they put it in their body alone.

  18. There is nothing wrong with MSG. There are bound, and free glutamates in almost all foods.
    (tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, parm cheese, milk, human breast milk, chicken, duck, beef, pork, many veggies)

    As stated over and over: MSG = glutamate, sodium (1/3rd that of normal salt) and water.

    MSG administered without food and in extremely high amounts generates a reaction in some people.

    “Glutamate is one of the most common amino
    acids found in nature. It is the main component of
    many proteins and peptides, and is present in most
    tissues. Glutamate is also produced in the body and
    plays an essential role in human metabolism.
    Virtually every food contains glutamate. It is a major
    component of most natural protein foods such as
    meat, fish, milk and some vegetables.
    MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate and is
    simply glutamate, water and sodium.”

    Source: IFIC

    Stop the baloney attacks on MSG and enjoy your food.

  19. A couple of the comments include phrases such as “MSG is completely natural and safe”. This is not true, at all. MSG does not occur naturally in any substance whatsoever. Free Glutamate is rarely found in foods unbound by peptide links in proteins unless it is specifically created by man through manufacturing to release the glutamate amino acids. It is the unbound amino acids (specifically glutamate) that create havoc in the body in large quantities (not natural) like that which is found in processed foods. Please read my blog MSGEXPOSED.COM to educate yourself.

    msgexposed . com

  20. Unless you are allergic to MSG, there is no reason to avoid it like some paranoid sheep with half it’s brain missing. And people arguing about it not being natural to add to food, neither is adding salt or sugar or spices or oil. Infact, cooking food isnt natural either, so the argument makes no sense.

    Leave MSG alone, unless you’re allergic (read: diagnosed by a doctor, not self diagnosed).

  21. MSG is an Excito-toxin. It KILLS brain cells. All you people saying it’s “safe” to consume, have already consumed too much of it because you obviously cannot think critically. There are TONS of studies showing that it excites neurons so they fire rapidly, so rapidly that they just keel over and die from exhaustion. “The Taste That Kills” http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2384105525501310962

    So yea, keep gobbling up that MSG, it’s good for ya!

  22. i know a brand that contains no MSG!
    its a nongshim type!
    its called hooroo rook
    its korean

    i don’t know where you can find it though because i live in an Asian city in California and i buy it here. San Gabriel.

    it has no MSG, not fried, and very little fat!
    i hope you find it and enjoy it. I must admit its not as delicious as the other ramen packages but its still very satisfying and i add a little lemon for some spice!

    that website talks about it :]

  23. there are very few ramen if none at all that do not contain msg. i have only ever had 1 brand that did not list msg. i found it at a 2 asian markets 1 in buffalo ( ne hoo wah’s) and 1 in houston (welcome market). the brand name was not in in english but there was no msg on the label or its alternate E621. it does however have anise in it but it was tasty.

    my suggestion to others out there is to buy your ramen noodles in bulk and get your soup base from some where like whole foods or wegmans, where they have an organic section. i have found many soup bases with no msg in various flavors.

    my favorite way to make ramen is to boil water then add frozen veggies, and msg free potstickers, thet the water come to a boil again then add the ramen. cook till done put in a huge bowl top with fresh spring onion and shredded spinich and consume.

    i disagree with those that say there is no need to avoid MSG. studies have linked it to diabetes. eating lots of msg spikes your insulin levels abnormally and can lead to insulin resistance in the human body. if your eating foods with msg the have low grade ingredients and msg is added to make it taste better.

    it it almost impossible to avid msg consumption forever till they take it off the market. your realistic goal is ti eat as little as possible. i just got back from the 3 biggest asian markets in houston and msg was in almost every bun, dim sum, and dumpling in the frozen isle. it was also in every single ramen on the shelf listed as either msg or E621 flavor enhancer. i found 1 bun brand and dumpling brand that did not have msg. it really is in most prepared foods. so read your labels and shop smart.

    thanks to all that posted the great links on msg and and posted msg free brands.

  24. I will agree, MSG is a naturally occurring substance, BUT not in the concentration and amount found in ramen. MSG in high doses is a known excitotoxin. It’s bad for your brain, that’s why many people like me experience head aches when eating ramen.

    Just like cocaine, it’s naturally found in the coca plant, people in S. America have been drinking coca leaf tea for centuries with no addiction or ill effects, actually it’s rather good for treating altitude sickness, BUT when cocaine was extracted and concentrated (similar to the msg in ramen) it became a dangerous addictive drug.

    The MSG in ramen is in MUCH higher concentration than it would be in any natural food.

    If you want a good MSG free ramen try Annie Chun’s soup bowls, her kimchi soup is probably the best and NONE of them contain MSG.

    The damage from consuming MSG is not instant, you are probably not going to drop dead from eating a bowl of ramen, just like you will not drop dead smoking 1 cigarette. The effects are cumulative, as the toxins build up after decades of consumption, then the damage arises. MSG has been known to cause brain and endocrine system damage.


  26. Hi,
    MSG does affect some people badly – and it doesn’t have to be “diagnosed by a doctor” as an “allergy.” You probably know it if you are.

    It tends to run in families. My mother-in-law, husband and small daughter are all allergic or intolerant, but can tolerate small amounts (so we can eat at restaurants that use MSG, but often regret it afterwards.) They experience severe flushing, headache (later on), and if there is a lot of MSG used, a minor rash where it comes in contact with their facial skin (this goes away within a couple of days.)

    From what I can tell, frequency of consumption will not impact your intolerance since we used to eat MSG-laden food almost every day, and my husband still experienced these side-effects (but they weren’t bad enough to make him stop!) It seems to be, from our experience, how much you consume – if you eat a lot at once, the symptoms will be worse. Symptoms are worse for my toddler than for my husband, but she is still young (hoping it will get better!)

    I am tolerant to MSG and have no side effects no matter how much I eat.

    Thought I would comment, since most posters are all “YAY!MSG!” but have not had any of these side-effects and/or seems to know anyone who has them. Good for them, because it sucks if you are intolerant.

    ANYWAY, MSG intolerance is a real thing. And it does help to be conscious of MSG in foods if you are intolerant so you don’t eat too much at once and get sick.


  27. I never get headaches whenever eating Ramen, does it still kill your brain cells if you keep consuming it if you don’t experience any of the symptoms?

    I’m losing braincells every second and when I’m watching the darn Televerzion and on the darn Computar.

  28. I add MSG to my ramen. It doesn’t contain enough.

    Accent is delicious.


    MSG is more or less a spice. Just like adding salt, pepper, or anything else to your food.

  29. I’m stunned by all those saying “yay for MSG, it doesn’t do any hard and you can’t be allergic to it…” not only are they ill-informed, but WHY are they so keen on promoting this stuff?! Even if you think it “does no harm”, it’s added to make cheap ingredients taste better… so at the very least you should be buying products that don’t need to rely on it!

    For the record, I assume things are far worse in the US, but in Australia it is slowly becoming easier to buy products without MSG… most are asian and/or “instant” foodstuffs. There are definitely brands that don’t use it, though, but you’ve got to check. I agree that instant noodles are the hardest to find… I suggest looking at western versions of the asian originals.

    I personally can’t eat stuff with MSG in it, as I get headaches and sometimes respiratory problems from it (asthmatics should never eat MSG!). Even something that tastes good, I know I’ll suffer for later, so it’s not worth it, long-term harm or not.

  30. Its common knowledge that ramen has MSG. Alot of things in China has MSG in it. It makes it taste more ” xian” which basically means good. ( in a special way, like the “good” of chicken soup, or any other type of soup)
    Most asian instant food has MSG in it, just saying. Assume it has MSG unless it says otherwise.

  31. There’s this awesome brand of ramen I buy at the local health food store that doesn’t have msg – it’s called Koyo. They don’t have a website, but you can likely get it at your local health/natural food place. They have a ton of great flavors like Asian vegetable, garlic pepper, mushroom, lemongrass ginger, etc. Totally yummy. Still has quite a bit of sodium, but no (added) msg. It’s also a tad more expensive at about $1.29 a packet. But I love the stuff.

  32. MSG is far from harmless. I agree that it doesn’t affect all people the same. It doesn’t seem to bother my husband, and I went for years without any effects. It’s completely wrong that it only affects you if you have limited exposure and have not built up a tolerance. I, unfortunately, have eaten way too many processed foods on a regular basis most of my life. Just before I turned forty, I spent a great deal of time at my physican’s and cardiologist’s offices, undergoing tests for my heart, which was wildly out of rhythm. The cardiologist wanted to put me on beta-blockers for the rest of my life. I was very resistant to the idea of taking a medication with known side effects, every day, indefinitely. I had found out during the testing that I had hypothyroidism, and my doctor agreed to wait until we regulated my thyroid to see if it would take care of my heart problems. Once that was regulated I hoped that it would take care of my irregular heartbeat, but I continued to have episodes. There were nights that I would bolt out of bed from a deep sleep, with my heart going crazy and feelings of electricity shooting through my limbs. I was truly afraid that I was going to orphan my young children. Then I was reading the label on my Doritos one day and saw “monosodium glutamate” listed. I started reading cans and packages and realized that I had had MSG two or three times a day since the onset of my latest episode. When I researched the side effects of MSG online, they could have used me as a case study. I have eliminated any known sources and most meals out, and I have been episode free since. I’m sure that I haven’t completely eliminated it, but greatly reducing it has made a dramatic difference in my health and quality of life. So if it doesn’t bother you, be thankful, but please do not call it harmless.

  33. WOW! Who would’ve thunk – a whole site dedicated to Ramen! I get my fix at least once a week. I “ditto” some of the thoughts here – prepare it with some veges, lunch/salad type meats, eggs, tofu, and throw away the packet. And my lil secret sub – Better than Bouillon Touch!! It’s awesome, and semi-healthy.

  34. My mother is from Vietnam but learned to cook in Chinese restaurants in the U.S. — eventually opening several restaurants of her own. She regularly added msg to her cooking as if it were just another seasoning. There was a time when she even shipped entire boxes of msg to her relatives in Vietnam!

    By the way, there used to be a food flavor enhancer product called “Accent.” It’s just msg.

    As my brothers and I entered our teens and learned more and felt more of the ill effects of msg, we eventually persuaded our mother to stop using it in our restaurants.

    You know, to those who say that it’s fine to consume because it occurs naturally in many things — there are lots of things that occur naturally that doesn’t make them safe. Tobacco is natural. Well, I supposed tobacco that’s been bred for higher nicotine content is not so natural. Sugar is natural. Butter is natural. Therefore, natural does not equal healthy. Moderation is key.

    Now I’m a parent of two kids. The first time I fed my son ramen (using half a season packet) he got a severe stomach ache and headache. Now I don’t use any of the seasoning pack with him. My daughter tolerates it and likes the taste so I use half a packet. However, I’d prefer to find a ramen product that had no msg at all. I’m searching right now. So far, I found that one product – koyo — that I might try. Still on the lookout as well. While I’m at it, I’m going to try some non-fried ramen products as well.

  35. I love ramen, but hate MSG because my throat and tongue feel awkward after eating anything with too much of it; the best option I’ve found is to just simply mix my own soup base for the ramen instead of using the soup packet that comes with the noodles. Personally I like to just use a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, with lots of raw fresh green onions and garlic, they give it a nice sharp taste that more than makes up for the MSG and other seasonings normally used in ramen soup packets. You can play around with it according to your tastes, a few people I know do the same thing but mix and match stuff like chicken/shrimp/whatever broth, Western seasonings, curry, etc.

  36. As I sit here eating my lunch of Top Ramen (chicken flavor) I am somewhat amused and somewhat distressed at the comments on MSG. For what it’s worth, consider the corollary to sodium. Sodium occurs naturally in many places (probably more than glutamic acid). A commonly consumed form of sodium, sodium chloride (aka “common table salt”) is in fact a critically necessary component of living tissue (if you don’t understand why you might want to refer to your original Star Trek archives).

    Salt in moderate quantities does not bother most people. Salt in sufficiently large quantities will kill anyone, even slugs. Salt in fairly small quantities causes tremendous swelling in some people, particularly the somewhat elevated amounts which are in many, many processed foods. Elevated salt intake over time is well documented to cause a variety of health problems in most people, particularly cardiac and circulatory problems.

    MSG affects many people the way salt does. For some it seems to cause no harm, although elevated quantities over time will cause some people problems. For some others even moderately elevated quantities will cause immediate extreme and painful swelling and other unpleasant effects. The amounts naturally present in foods are far less than that added to some foods, particularly in restaurants. Sort of like salt, caffeine, a host of preservatives, dyes, fats,

    So, for all those of you who, like me, are fortunate enough to not react badly to MSG in the short term, let’s all hope we aren’t causing ourselves brain lesions in the long term. And for those of you who, like my wife, react very strongly and badly to MSG in the short term, may you have good luck in finding packaged foods which do not contain added MSG, and restaurants which will honor requests to leave MSG out of the food (many will do so if you ask). And to those who actually tried to offer information on MSG free ramen or on how to prepare MSG free ramen in response to the original question, thank you for sticking to the topic. I will look for those brands and try those methods so that my wife and I can enjoy ramen together without her suffering adverse effects.

  37. MSG does horrible things to me. 1. It makes my joints (my ankles are the worst) swell up to three times their normal size. 2. It aggravates my joints causing pain. This is not a typical reaction for most people but it is horrible for me. I need to look for my own soup base that is MSG free.

  38. P L E A S E ! L I S T E N U P !
    While stationed in South Korea during the early 1970’s; I spoke with a Korean surgeon about MSG; and he explained to me: Recently (1973 or so) South Korean studies concluded that MSG is a chemical additive that makes crappy ingredients taste better. That is why MSG is added to many foods, because they start with the worst ingredients.

    He went on to say also, that MSG causes a wide range of headaches for a large number of people from mild to migrain. It was also determined to be a carcinagen… can and does cause cancer.

    I will not give the doctor’s name here; but he has excellent crededtials from Japan, Korea, Germany and France. He has also been on staff at Columbia University, New York and Mayo Clinic.

    Please, if you wish to spout something in any blog on the net; get educated. Before you open your ugle keyboard, research the truth. MSG does NOT naturally occure in food, food processors PUT it in there intentionally.

    Us the internet for what it was designed for. Its the cheapest information resource you will ever find. Maybe even the best education you’ll ever know. You could be light years ahead of the competition.

    Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant age: nearly 60

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