Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 304–313. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602526; published online 6 September 2006

Consensus meeting: monosodium glutamate – an update

Guarantor: P Stehle.

K Beyreuther1, H K Biesalski2, J D Fernstrom3, P Grimm4, W P Hammes5, U Heinemann6, O Kempski7, P Stehle8, H Steinhart9 and R Walker10

  1. 1ZMBH, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  2. 2Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition (140a), University of Hohenheim, Germany
  3. 3Departments of Psychiatry Pharmacology & Neuroscience and Center for Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburg, USA
  4. 4Nutrition Communication, Schurwaldstr. Schorndorf, Germany
  5. 5Department of Food Technology and Microbiology (150a), University of Hohenheim, Germany
  6. 6Institute of Neurophysiology, Charité Berlin, Germany
  7. 7Institute for Neurosurgical Pathophysiology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
  8. 8Department of Nutritional and Food Sciences – Nutrition Physiology, University of Bonn, Germany
  9. 9Institute of Chemistry, Department of Food Chemistry, University of Hamburg, Germany
  10. 10School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, UK

Correspondence: Professor P Stehle, Department of Nutritional and Food Sciences – Nutrition Physiology, University of Bonn, Endenicher Allee 11-13, Bonn D-53115, Germany. E-mail: p.stehle@uni-bonn.de

Received 21 December 2005; Revised 14 June 2006; Accepted 6 July 2006; Published online 6 September 2006.

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Abstract

Objective:

 

Update of the Hohenheim consensus on monosodium glutamate from 1997: Summary and evaluation of recent knowledge with respect to physiology and safety of monosodium glutamate.

Design:

 

Experts from a range of relevant disciplines received and considered a series of questions related to aspects of the topic.

Setting:

 

University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

Method:

 

The experts met and discussed the questions and arrived at a consensus.

Conclusion:

 

Total intake of glutamate from food in European countries is generally stable and ranged from 5 to 12 g/day (free: ca. 1 g, protein-bound: ca. 10 g, added as flavor: ca. 0.4 g). L-Glutamate (GLU) from all sources is mainly used as energy fuel in enterocytes. A maximum intake of 16.000 mg/kg body weight is regarded as safe. The general use of glutamate salts (monosodium-L-glutamate and others) as food additive can, thus, be regarded as harmless for the whole population. Even in unphysiologically high doses GLU will not trespass into fetal circulation. Further research work should, however, be done concerning the effects of high doses of a bolus supply at presence of an impaired blood brain barrier function. In situations with decreased appetite (e.g., elderly persons) palatability can be improved by low dose use of monosodium-L-glutamate.

Keywords:

monosodium glutamate, CNS, breast milk, food safety, toxicology, human nutrition

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