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November 4, 1974

Saltiness of Monosodium Glutamate And Sodium Intake

Author Affiliations

Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, Conn

JAMA. 1974;230(5):670. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240050018008

To the Editor.—  Monosodium glutamate (MSG) was originally introduced for use in foods as a "flavor enhancer," ie, it was added in small amounts to improve the flavors of other food constituents without adding a flavor of its own. However, MSG is sold in shaker containers that direct the consumer to "sprinkle to taste at the table." Used in this manner, MSG becomes a condiment or seasoner that adds its own palatable salty taste to foods. Most individuals concerned about sodium intake probably realize that MSG is a source of sodium. However, they do not realize that MSG is less salty than NaCl of equivalent sodium content. This suggests that using MSG to season foods could actually increase sodium intake.We quantified the tastes of MSG and NaCl with a standard psychophysical procedure1 in which ten paid volunteers (primarily Yale undergraduate students) were instructed to estimate the magnitude of