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Karnataka and Kolkata food inspectors have also sent Maggi samples for testing (Photo: PTI)

Dear Madhuri, here is why Maggi is a Silent Killer

What Madhuri Dixit calls “taste bhi, nutrition bhi” is actually a bowl of toxic additives.

Updated
Lifestyle
3 min read

When a brand is in hot waters, the celeb endorsing it usually happens to be in the line of fire. (Remember  Ash’s jewellery ad?)

Madhuri finds herself in a legal tussle for endorsing the Lead and MSG laden Maggi!

Earlier this month, UP Food Safety and Drug Administration’s found that Maggi contains nearly 7 times the permissible limit of lead and very high levels of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in it.

We all knew Maggi is not nutrition in a bowl but were these dangerous ingredients always there? What has this excessive consumption been doing to our bodies?

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What is Monosodium Glutamate?

It is one of the worst food additives in the market and it is EVERYWHERE. That sharpish taste in Chinese foods, that’s not salt or sugar but something more - yes, that’s MSG.

Commonly known as ajinomoto (though it’s a brand name), it is used as a flavour enhancer and is much more than regular seasoning. MSG is added to almost all Chinese meals, fast food burgers, canned foods, salad dressings, frozen foods to make them look fresher and more appetising.

The American Association of Cancer Research estimates that nearly 25% of the American population is intolerant towards MSG and experiencing its side-effects. There are hardly any Indian studies  on it.

Why is it Dangerous?

There are no proven side-effects of consuming small amounts of MSG. However, excessive and regular intake can lead to:

Obesity

Chest Pain

Depression

Headaches

Permanent damage in the Nervous System

How to Avoid Excessive Consumption of MSG?

It is hard to escape MSG in packed foods but be smart and careful in reading  labels. Don’t be tricked by claims of “no added MSG” or “contains no MSG” because high levels of free glutamates can be naturally present in various foods which are broken down by sophisticated techniques and do not have a labelling requirement.

To avoid the deceitful trap of food companies, lookout for terms such as HVP (Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein) , HSP (Hydrolysed Soy Protein) and HPP (Hydrolysed Plant Protein) which are different kinds of free glutamates.

In Which Foods does MSG Naturally Occur?

Paremesan Cheese

Corn

Mushrooms

Peas

Tomatoes

Grapes

The naturally occurring MSG is something you need not worry about. It’s the synthetic kind which isn’t easy to digest and can harm your health. Synthetic MSG can cross the placenta and reach the baby causing multiple problems.
– Dietician Shikha Sharma

MSG in Pregnancy

At some point in your pregnancy, someone always tells you to avoid Chinese food. The culprit is not the cuisine but the rampant use of MSG in its preparation.

Nutritionist Indranai Pawar of Hinduja Hospital says “MSG and lead consumption in pregnancy can impair the growth of the foetus. It can cause brain damage and even behavioural issues in the child post birth.”

Small amounts will not be toxic unless there is a known allergy but doctors strictly advise against its intake in pregnancy because it can aggravate problems like ADHD in the child. Excessive consumption can even break the placenta barrier of food supply to the baby.

Excessive consumption of foods containing MSG can cause anxiety and irritation in children. Since their brains are still developing, it can mimic autism like symptoms too.
– Kajal Bhatia, Nutritionist

Healthier Food Enhancers

Nutritionist Kajal Bhatia recommends using “fresh desi spices, herbs and vegetable stock” as healthier taste enhancers.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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