Are you sensitive to MSG?

Knoxville (WVLT) -- It's a food ingredient with a reputation.

Msg is found in everything from Kung Pao Chicken to Sweet and Sour Pork.

The reaction to it is widespread enough to have a name: Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

But this flavor enhancer is showing up in other recipes, besides just Chinese food.

In this week's Healthy Tennessean, what exactly MSG is, and how to tell if you're sensitive to it.

The hitch family has been making beef jerky in Blount county for more than 30 years.

It's a local favorite at hunting, fishing and outdoor sporting events.

Owner stan hitch says the family recently decided to switch from using U.S.. Beef to Argentinean beef, in part because it's 100 percent grass fed and free of growth enhancers and hormones.

At the same time, hitch says, they added a new honey barbecue flavor, and the sauce used to make it contains the infamous ingredient, MSG.

"Actually, it's monosodium glutamate, is what it stands for, and glutamate is in all protein foods and our body even makes it, so there would be some occurring naturally to a small extent."

UT Medical Center Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Leah Kittle says the temporary, but uncomfortable symptoms are often so subtle people don't realize the additive has affected them.

"There are some people though, who are allergic to it and they'll, after they eat something with MSG in it, and usually at an Asian restaurant, they'll experience symptoms of numbness and tingling in the back of their neck."

Other symptoms may include:

Headache, tightness in the chest, pressure around the cheeks or jaw, mild mood changes, weakness, tingling, burning sensations, heart palpitations, vivid or bizarre dreams and asthma-like symptoms.

Kittle says, "It does have sodium in it. It's less sodium than salt is, but it does have sodium, so if you're on a sodium restricted diet for high blood pressure, kidney disease. You definitely want to watch your intake of it."

Nutrition experts recommend if you suspect you are sensitive to m-s-g, try to eliminate all foods containing MSG from your diet.

But that could be a challenge.

It goes by a variety of names and is hidden in many foods.

Crockett's Creek officials say using the barbecue sauce containing MSG wasn't a decision they took lightly.

But they stress., it's only contained in one variety, that's only about 20 percent of their beef jerky products.

The others are msg free.


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