What Foods Have the Highest Levels of MSG?

Protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, cheese and meat typically contain the highest levels of MSG, according to Healthline. Additionally, packaged and processed foods contain notable amounts of MSG that commonly provoke allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Relatively higher amounts of MSG are used in foods prepared at Chinese restaurants, which is why the phrase “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” is often used to describe the symptoms some consumers experience after consuming MSG at such a restaurant, reports About.com. MSG is a primary ingredient found in many types of foods such as poultry stocks and meat extracts. Additionally, MSG is found in food binders, flavor enhancers and emulsifiers that contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein, states Healthline. Although MSG naturally occurs in many foods, only when it’s used as a food additive is it required to be listed on a food label as monosodium glutamate.

Consuming more than 3 grams of MSG at one time is believed to cause allergy symptoms in some people. However, a single serving of food with added MSG generally contains less than 0.5 grams of the substance, explains the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. People with MSG sensitivity may experience symptoms such as drowsiness, palpitations, flushing, headaches and numbness after consuming a large amount of MSG. However, the typical symptoms of a MSG allergy are mild and generally only last a short time, explains the FDA.