Additives are chemical ingredients that are used as ingredients. They can be grouped in several families: colourants, preservatives, antioxidants, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers etc… for a total of about 900 compounds. What puts them on the same level is the way they are codified, namely the acronym made of two components: the letter E (which refers to Europe) and a numerical identification code. When we look at labels, we can find the name of the substance, its code or both. 

The first of which I would like to unveil the identity is the E621also known as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is one of the most common synthetic origin flavour enhancers. Do you know when you have the irresistible “desire” to finish up, in just one second, a bag of potato chips? What makes you go crazy is exactly the E621; in fact, it can excite your taste buds and makes you want to eat all those foods that contain it. The fact that packaged foods have irresistible flavours, it doesn’t mean that it is equally healthy for our health. What this flavour enhancer does is to trigger a real addiction, and widely contributes to promote obesity. Do you know what are the foods where we can find the monosodium glutamate? Generally speaking, in processed foods. It can be found in so many products that I’ll mention just a few examples:

  • Potato chips
  • Packaged soups
  • Frozen foods
  • Prepared foods
  • Candies 
  • Spreadable creams

However, another characteristic we should pay attention to is the fact that on the label it is not always written E621 or its full name. This additive can hide several other denominations, such as: glutamic acid, glutamate, hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats, hydrogenated proteins, gelatine, sodium and calcium caseinates, yeast extract or added yeast. In particular, any type of natural flavour or artificial flavour often contains monosodium glutamate. The majority of international scientific studies have determined its neurotoxicity; Dr. Blaylock’s (eminent American neurosurgeon and nutritionist) 2007 new research confirms it and shows that this additive aggravates cancer and amplifies tumours. 

There can be several side effects, such as weight gain, nausea, arrhythmia, hyperactivity, skin rashes, swollen legs and much more. Here’s a little curiosity: considering that this additive is used very often in Asia and India, some American restaurants have recently started to place signs saying, “NO MSG HERE” as a way to attract informed customers.  Now that you have come to know this ingredient, don’t worry if you have already consumed it a hundred times, with or without side effects; now that you have more information about it, exploit it to say yes or no when you go to the grocery store or before consuming a product that contains it, whether you are at the supermarket or at a friend’s house. It is important to identify it and to avoid it!