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Monosodium glutamate

Published: 24/08/2011 12:51:00 PM GMT
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Is it lawful for Muslims to consume products containing monosodium glutamate or ajinomoto? I would also like to know what monosodium glutamate is and where it comes from?

Answered by

the Scientific Research Committee -

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid itself is a naturally occurring amino acid that is actually produced by the human body in small quantities.

Monosodium glutamate is made commercially by fermenting starchy vegetables, specifically starch, sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses.

Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer that has no distinctive taste of its own. How it enhances the flavor of other foods is not completely known. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, many scientists believe that monosodium glutamate stimulates glutamate receptors on the tongue to augment meat-like flavors.

Glutamate occurs naturally in many foods. However, only some of this naturally occurring glutamate is in a free form.

Only free glutamate can act as a flavor enhancer. According to the FDA, part of the flavor-enhancing effect of tomatoes, certain cheeses, and fermented or hydrolyzed protein products (such as soy sauce) is on account of the presence of free glutamate.

This brings us to the critical question on the possible adverse affects that free glutamate can have if consumed in the unnaturally large quantities found in some processed foods. There have been some claims of adverse reactions and research into this matter is ongoing. However, it has yet to produce conclusive findings.

Islamically, foods containing monosodium glutamate and other sources of free glutamate like hydrolyzed protein should be considered permissible to consume unless it is demonstrated conclusively that such products are seriously detrimental to human health.

Ajinomoto is merely a Japanese manufacturer of monosodium glutamate. Their brand of this product takes the same ruling as any other brand.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

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