Disturbingly, scientists have known since the 1960s that MSG kills brain cells in young animals. Further research suggested that MSG may also be responsible for ailments ranging from skin rashes to irregular heartbeat and depression.
Baby food manufacturers agreed to take MSG out of their products in the 1970s, but it is still widely used in other foods. This is because MSG is a cost-effective way of simulating great taste. If you're making a chicken stew but can't afford a whole chicken, why not use a little chicken and a lot of MSG?
Reports vary on just what percentage of the population is sensitive to MSG. One researcher put the figure as high as 30%, but food industry-sponsored studies have suggested it is as low as 1-2%. Consumer groups in the USA campaign regularly against its use, but for many of us, MSG will continue to be a part of everyday life. Food, it seems, will always be a matter of personal taste.