Umami and MSG

The view of MSG as a flavor enhancer is incorrect. MSG (and certain other amino acids) give rise to a 5th distinct gustatory quality that is commonly called umami. Unfortunately, much like the dreaded tongue map, many texts still persist in denying umami as a 5th taste quality and instead refer to MSG as a flavor enhancer. The functional expression of a human taste receptor for glutamate should hopefully win over the remaining skepics.1

See also:

  • Bruce P. Halpern. 2002. What’s in a Name? Are MSG and Umami the Same? Chem. Senses 2002 27: 845-846.
  • Bernd Lindemann, Yoko Ogiwara, and Yuzo Ninomiya. 2002. The Discovery of Umami. Chem. Senses 27: 843-844.


1 Edited from a Sensory Nexus posting by John E Hayes, Sept 18, 2003.