The racist pseudoscience behind ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’

The BBC reports:

Commonly referred to as MSG, the flavoring agent conjures up images of greasy meals followed by headaches.Now Ajinomoto [a Japanese company that produces monosodium glutamate] has launched a campaign to recover MSG’s reputation by taking on an unlikely target — Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

The publisher is being pressed to change “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” [which it defines as “A group of symptoms (such as numbness of the neck, arms, and back with headache, dizziness, and palpitations) that is held to affect susceptible persons eating food and especially Chinese food heavily seasoned with monosodium glutamate”].

The dictionary entry is racist and unscientific, says Ajinomoto, and unfairly vilifies MSG.

See also: How MSG got a bad rap: Flawed science and xenophobia on Five Thirty Eight.

—Jeremy Goldkorn