Food Detectives - The Effects of MSG   View more episodes

Aired at 09:30 AM on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 (3/25/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:01:40We are conducting an experiment to find out if there is any truth to the claim that consuming food cooked with monosodium glutamate, commonly known as msg, causes symptoms like headaches or nausea.
00:01:5430 Healthy subjects a free lunch at the golden unicorn in new york city's chinatown.
00:02:00You've probably heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch and this is no exception.
00:02:06They don't know it yet, but they're part of our experiment.
00:02:10My name is ted allen,thank you very muchfor joining us today.
00:02:15I hope you enjoyed your meal.
00:02:19Excellent, this actuallyis an experiment.
00:02:21Adam is actuallya molecular biologist, and he assists uswith our research, dr. adam.
00:02:26Thank you, ted, so by show of hands, how many of you are familiar with the effects of msg?
00:02:33Almost everyone. yeah.
00:02:36Is there anyone in the roomwho specifically requests that their food in a restaurantthout msg?
00:02:43And how many people are feeling the effects of msg right now?
00:02:50(Ted) WHAT THE SUBJECTS DON'T KNOW IS THAT Only half of them, those sitting on the left sideof the room, have consumed msg.
00:02:58Before we let them in on our little secret, let's talk to them about how they're feeling right now.
00:03:03We'll start with the left sideof the room.
00:03:05These 15 subjects all ate foodthat did contain msg, but only three of them reported feeling symptoms.
00:03:13I'm sorry you're not feeling well.
00:03:15Can you tell me about your symptoms?
00:03:16A headache in the backof my head. really?
00:03:19Dizziness or wooziness?kind of, yeah.
00:03:23Have you had problemswith msg before?
00:03:28(Ted) OUR SUBJECTS WEREN'T GIVEN THE OPTION To hold the msg today, and she was part of the group that consumed it.
00:03:36But is the monosodium glutamateresponsible for her headache or is it all in her head?
00:03:41Let's talk to the subjects sitting on the other of the room.
00:03:45They consumed no msg at all.
00:03:48Yet five of them tell us they're experiencing classic msg symptoms likeheadaches, nausea, and fatigue.
00:03:56Our free lunch was a first datefor these two subjects.
00:03:59 so you said you werefeeling some symptoms from msg?
00:04:03Yeah, a lilly sharp headache, definite stomach ache, yeah.
00:04:08Oh no, I'm sorry.
00:04:10Okay, so lunch didn't agree with you either?
00:04:12Well, my stomach doesn't hurtand I don't have a headache, but I feela little lightheaded.
00:04:16So is this really a first date?yeah.
00:04:19Oh, my gosh, and it's going well? uh-huh.
00:04:21Other than her severe nausea?
00:04:23Yeah, but I usually havethat effect on women.
00:04:25I hope you feel better. thank you.
00:04:27Good luck to you, thanks a lot.
00:04:30(Ted) WELL, WE KNOW IT WASN'T MSG MAKING Them feel queasy, but the combination of the placebo effect and first date nerves is enough to cause some gastrointestinal distress.
00:04:40Hi, I understand the food'snot agreeing with you that well.
00:04:44I felt the effects right away actually from msg.
00:04:47Really? yes.
00:04:49Can you describewhat the effects were?
00:04:51I can, I get a tightness in my temples, kinda like a hammer effect.
00:04:55I get a little pulsating under my eyes.
00:04:58Is this a problemyou've had for a long time?
00:04:59I've had it since I'm a little kid with msg, and I love chinese food.
00:05:04So I'm very aware of it.
00:05:05(Ted)NOW SHE MAY HAVE A HEADACHE,BUT MSG Isn't the culprit,at least not today, cause there wasn't any in her food.
00:05:15All right, folks,if I could please dr. ruben hasan announcement to make.
00:05:20I can now reveal to you that the diners on the right half of the restaurant have not actually eaten any msg.
00:05:31So our experiment has revealedthat several of you reported symptoms that youthought were caused by msg, even though you didn'teat any, and that leads us to believethat msg, which has suffered from decadesof really bad publicity has gotten kind ofa bad rap.
00:05:50All right, well, adam, were you surprised by the results today?
00:05:54Not really, I mean,what we saw today, it really lines upwith all the research that's been doneup until this point.
00:06:00(Ted) WHILE THERE ISN'T CONCLUSIVE RESEARCH On the effects of msg in people who suffer from chronic migraines, studies have clearly shown that it does not cause headaches or nausea in otherwise healthy people.
00:06:13So why do so many peoplebelieve msg is making them sick?
00:06:17Well, eating food that is spicy or greasy or simply overeating can cause indigestion.
00:06:23It could also be a psychosomatic reaction.
00:06:26The subjects believe that msg makes them feel bad and so they do.
00:06:31Meanwhile, the main component of msg is found naturally in so many foods, from steak to mushrooms to parmesan cheese.
00:06:39Exactly and you don't hearpeople complaining about steakhouse syndrome.
00:06:44You know, you don't.
00:06:46And there you have it, going to the trouble to avoid msg is probably not worth the headache.
00:06:53(Ted)UP NEXT, ON "FOOD DETECTIVES,"WE'RE Comparing the caffeine content of your favorite drinks.
00:06:59Tuned to find out which pick-me-up packs the biggest punch.
00:08:39] your ..
00:08:42And food dollars disappear?
00:08:45Pick del monte canned peaches.
00:08:47And enjoy sunny taste.
00:08:49Without the waste.
00:08:52♪ ♪
00:09:29caffeine is america's number onebehavior-altering drug.
00:09:32Nine out o on a daily basis.
00:09:34But do you have any idea where caffeine comes from or how much of a jolt is lurking in your morning ritual?
00:09:51to help us get to the bottom of this question, mark jannot, editor-in-chief of "popular science," and the head of our research team at the magazine.
00:09:58Hi ted. hi mark.
00:10:01So how abouta little background on caffeine?
00:10:02Well, I actually havea bowlful of raw caffeineright here.
00:10:06It's a bitter whitecrystalline compoundthat acts as a stimulant.
00:10:10It's a naturally occurringsubstance in plants, where it actually functionsas an insecticide.
00:10:16The amount of caffeinein any given plant will vary, just as it doesin your drinks.
00:10:21All right, well, first, let's look at our most beloved vehicle for caffeine delivery, coffee.
00:10:34ted, your average8-ounce cup of regular coffee packs about 135 milligramsof caffeine.
00:10:40Now that sounds like a lot, but I imagine espresso is even stronger, right?
00:11:04Well you're way ahead of me, ted.
00:11:07This shot of espressowill deliver a hitof about 50 milligrams, but that's still way lessthan that 8-ounce cup of coffee.
00:11:14Okay, so you could even have a double espresso and still have less caffeine than in a regular cup of joe.
00:11:27Now there are a lot of misconceptions about tea.
00:11:31For example, I've heard some people say they think that green tea has more caffeine than coffee.
00:11:35Yeah, I don't knowwhere that comes from, ted.
00:11:38The truth is that tea timepacks much less of a punchthan your coffee break.
00:11:43A typical 8-ounce cupof black tea has only about 50 milligramsof caffeine in it, whereas, green tea haseven less, about 30 milligrams.
00:11:52So a person who wanted to reduce their caffeine intake might do well to switch from coffee to tea then?
00:12:03Now ted, most peopleare probably aware that regular colais caffeinated.
00:12:08There's about35 milligrams of caffeinein a typical 12-ounce can.
00:12:10But of all of the beveragesthat we're talking about today, energy drinks packthe most punch.
00:12:19With about 300 milligrams of caffeine in a typical12-ounce can now that's more thantwo cups of coffee, six shots of espresso, or 30 chocolate bars.
00:12:33 I'm getting heart palpitations just lookin' at that stuff.
00:12:43You know, I've had a lotof caffeine today.
00:12:44I think I'm switchin' to decaf.
00:12:46Even that stuff'sf caffeine.
00:12:51Closed Captions Provided bypps Networks, Llc hey, emeril lagasse here, and I'm atfrank's at chelsea market.
00:13:01Because I'm in the mood for a big, fat, juicy steak.
00:13:04But when I come intofrank's, and I see all these variety of meats and lamb and poultry and beef, my mind goes absolutely crazy !
00:13:14Hey, we're beefin' it up right here onemeril live.
00:13:21Captions provided by SCRIPPS NETWORKS, INC.
00:13:36Chris, what do you liketoday, what's great ?
00:13:38There's all kinds of good stuff.
00:13:40We've got nice calf's liver.
00:13:42So I think I'll takea little bit of that.
00:13:43Nice oxtails for a stew or a ragout.
00:13:45I'd love to do something withthose beautiful oxtails.
00:13:49I've got a loin of lamb and a rack tied end to end.
00:13:52Look at that,look at the size of that.
00:13:54 they're ready to go in the oven.
00:13:56Oh, I gotta havesome of that lamb.
00:13:58( Emeril ) D YOU HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH Your butcher.
00:14:01He or she can tie things for you, can give you proper cooking times, tell you other techniques, oking techniques of-- maybe you wanna sear this, maybe you wanna braise this, maybe you wanna grill this.
00:14:14People love to cook, people love to eat.
00:14:16Y'know, we help make sure that they have a good meal.
00:14:18Y'know, that's part of what we do, and it's a lot of fun.
00:14:21I'd love to show the audiencesomething with stew meat.
00:14:25That would be great.
00:14:26Some loins of pork, frenched, ready for the oven.
00:14:29Legs of lamb.
00:14:30I've got nice, big skirt steaks, y'know, nice and thick.
00:14:34Meat should be firm.
00:14:35You can really get an idea aboutthe quality of a piece of meat when you cut it by hand.
00:14:40A little bit ofskirt steak.
00:14:41Thick as your thumb, this way they grill up nice.
00:14:43Chris, if you could justget this together for me, send it up to the studio,that would be great.
00:14:49We'll get it all wrapped up, we'll send it up.
00:14:51I really appreciate it. my pleasure.
00:14:52Thanks so much,have a great day, as always.
00:14:54Hey, it's great to behere atfrank's.
00:14:56But now I gottaget up to the studio allof this stuff.
00:15:01( cheering ) How you doin' ?
00:15:16Thank you.
00:15:19Thank you !
00:15:21How you all doin' tonight, everybody all right ?
00:15:25Emeril lagasse here.
00:15:26Please, welcome to emeril livehere.
00:15:30( applauding ) Hey, y'know, for years I've been tellin' you guys portant it is to know your butcher, right ?
00:15:41And now you can see why.
00:15:43You get great meats and great quality.
00:15:46It really opens your mind to some new recipes, some new ideas.
00:15:51Speakin' about great, give it up for doc gibbs and theemeril liveband !
00:16:07Give it up for doc gibbs and theemeril liveband !
00:16:21Let me tell you how this whole thing works.
00:16:25Downstairs in the market-- go see frank, go to the butcher.
00:16:30We do a lot of shows like this.
00:16:32You don't really know that at home, but we do.
00:16:35So we go down there, and it's like, "yeah, give me a little bit of this, "give me a little bit of that.
00:16:40"I'll take some of those oxtails.
00:16:42"Ah, give me some bacon, give me this, give me that.
00:16:49" I don't think we've ever cooked calf's liver.
00:16:53If we have-- you guys all right over there ?
00:16:56( man ) OH, YEAH !
00:17:01You makin' fun of my liver ?
00:17:03No, no, no,not at all.
00:17:06What was it, the lamb ?
00:17:07( man )NO, WE'RE JUSTHAPPY TO BE HERE.
00:17:11Very happy to be here.
00:17:14I can see where we're goin' tonight.
00:17:17Skirt steak-- anyhow, so the kitchen-- we got some ingredients here.
00:17:22We're just gonna cook, we're gonna have fun.
00:17:24We're gonna do somethin' with oxtails, bacon, we're gonna do somethin' with lamb.
00:17:28Well, you see what we're gonna do.
00:17:30All right, let's start with the oxtails.
00:17:36These are getting very, very popular these days.
00:17:40So here's what we're gonna do.
00:17:42We're gonna get the old oxtails here, and in this bag-- y'know, to kind of flour 'em and do all that, y'know, it's like-- y'know, come on.
00:17:55Flour, essence.
00:18:07Has anybody ever cooked oxtails ?
00:18:11No one ?
00:18:12( man ) YES.
00:18:14You have ?
00:18:16A lot ?
00:18:19Curried oxtails ?
00:18:20Wow ! are you a chef ?
00:18:24Just a nice-- just a cook.
00:18:27Oh, you ate it somewhere ?
00:18:28Then I made it.
00:18:30Then you made 'em, good for you.
00:18:32I'm impressed-- curried oxtails.
00:18:34You might be onto somethin' here.
00:18:37All right, look, I don't know what this is gonna be.
00:18:40This is oxtails in a bag right now.
00:18:44But I now they're gettin' well covered.
00:18:48All right, now what we're gonna do is this-- I'm thinkin' about maybe doin' some, like, an oxtail stew.
00:18:56That's what I'm thinkin'.
00:19:03Matter of fact, that's what we're gonna do.
00:19:07Since the kitchen started rendering some bacon for me-- ( man )PORK FAT !
00:19:14Oh yeah, babe.
00:19:16We're gonna take the bacon out and leave the bacon drippings-- don't you think that's a better name, "drippings" ?
00:19:25" what are you, a mechanic ?
00:19:30I like "drippings," don't you ?
00:19:40What's this, y'know, "bacon grease" ?
00:19:46All right, so what we're gonna do is we're gonna shake off the excess, and we're gonna start browning these oxtails.
00:19:55While we're brownin' the oxtails, I'm gonna start thinkin' about what we're gonna do with 'em.
00:19:59When we come back, I'll show you.
00:20:01I think it's gonna be, like, an oxtail stew.
00:20:03Stick around, we'll be right back.
00:20:05Doc gibbs !