Is Monosodium Glutamate Gluten-free?
Monosodium glutamate is safe on the gluten-free diet. It is not to be confused with gluten. This is a case of mistaken identity. These substances have similar names but are different.
So often, names are given to compounds by one discipline and they end up being similar to names given by another discipline. The cereal chemist calls the storage proteins in wheat "gluten". Meanwhile, the biochemist calls a particular amino acid "glutamic acid." However, they are not the same thing. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. When glutamic acid is hooked onto the element sodium, it is now renamed "sodium glutamate." The name is where the similarity ends. Gluten causes problems for Celiacs while sodium glutamate does not. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is widely used in Asian cuisine. It is a "flavor enhancer". For example, it makes sugar taste sweeter. MSG has an interesting history. The ancient Romans fermented a liquid that is believed to have contained MSG. It was very valuable and used at almost every meal. It was traded by the Romans for other valuable goods found around the Mediterranean Sea. MSG was isolated by a Japanese researcher in 1907. It did not become widely available until the 1950's when methods of production became easier. While the soy sauce used in Asian cooking can be a cause for concern for Celiacs, MSG is not and just makes things taste better.