E621 is a food flavor enhancer which is also known as MSG (Monosodium glutamate) in chemical term. The E code in E621 shows the European standard substance alphabetic order code. The numbers after E refers to specific substance.
E621’s root belongs to Germany where a chemist named K. H. Ritthausen(1) tried to get some new flavors in daily food. He got into many experiments where he mixed random substance and chemical into food to make them taste good; but nothing good and satisfy happened.
Later in 1866 his curiosity of discover new taste hit the right way and he found some new ideas. He mixed wheat gluten with sulfuric acid and finally the new taste came into existence. This new discovery didn’t get hit and also Ritthausen didn’t take out the real taste of E621 in lake of advance technology in that 1870’s era.
Thus in the lesser interest of more research and experiments Ritthausen discovered new taste became the untouched flavor without having a name and remained in text books for almost 42 years.
Later in 1908 this story went in Japan where a Chemist from Tokyo Imperial University(2) named Kikunae ikeda(3) discovered E621 by coincidence. Kikunae had been done many studies on a number of subjects but his priority was never to find a new taste as a food enhancer.
He found this by coincidence; while noticing that the soup he used to consume had a chicken like savory taste when he was not adding any non-vegetarian material into the food. He studied on that and found that the taste was from the common using seaweed Laminaria japonica(4) which is also known as Kombu in local language.
He found that the taste comes from seaweed is totally different from four basic known taste which are Sweet, salty, sour and bitter. He named this taste Umami(5) which refers Pleasant savory taste in Japanese. Kikunae was so excited with new taste that he decided to study on this more and develop this taste more, so he isolated the glutamic acid from seaweed and studied also other glutamate salts(6).
In result Kikunae finally found that sodium glutamate is easy to use and water soluble so he develop this salt and named this Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). He also went for a patent and in 1909 E621 commercial production began.
Is E621 vegetarian?
E621 is made by bacterial fermentation process from Molasses which makes this flavor enhancer absolute 100% vegan. Bacterial fermentation is process is commonly used in worldwide commercial use because this process is easy to perform and less complex like any other chemical process. Beside this, there are two other chemical process which also been used to make E621.
In which First process of rest of remain two, comes from the E621 origin story where it was prepared directly from the vegetables. This process began popular with its origin when it was first taken out from the seaweed Laminaria japonica. So in that period of time in the lake of the advanced technological methods this was the only method to make E621.
The other process moves around the one way direct synthesis of acrylonitrile(7). This process became popular when the E621’s demand increased and then the vegetable option was not enough power to fulfill the new savor flavor demand in the market. In today’s these secondary option are available too but due to heavy demand and rapid growing food market the production houses prefers the bacterial fermentation process.
E621 is mainly used as a food additive around the world. People use this because of its savory flavor which adds a meat like taste to any food they want; but there are some other interesting uses of E621 which most of the people don’t know. Beside a food additive nature, E621 also helps us in some medical treatments. Doctors use E621 in hepatic coma and in other kinds of diseases.
There is a misconception that E621 is harmful manmade chemical and any small intake of this may cause some serious issues to our health. Well in this case, some theories suggest that E621’s heavy dose may be harmful to any human body but we should also know that E621 make a regular presence in our body by several other foods which contain E621 (MSG).
In our body the stomach and gut lining are super absorber of E621 and in the final process it converts E621 and other glutamate into fuel, which is used in our daily life activities. This process keeps in action either if you don’t take any single direct dose of E621. Many foods contain E621 and our body easily digests that. Tomato and cheese are great example of E621 containing foods.
E621’s food additive form is widely famous and mostly acceptable around the world. This all started with this 0flavory substance founder Kikunae Ikeda when he gave an open opportunity to public to buy this in open market by get invention associated with Suzuki Pharmaceutical, they started a company named Ajinomoto co.(8)
This company made E621 in large production and the reach got worldwide by 1930. This substance went very popular in China, Japan and other East Asia countries and after second World-War this invention went super popular.
In the second World-War some Asian countries didn’t get any major lose but Japan had to face a lot of problems in this period of time because of its presence in war; so after the war when Japanese army got restrict condition with treaty of Mutual cooperation and security between Japan and the united states of America with United States(9); Japan had to shift its military power into other works.
Japan had seen two world wars and now Japanese know where to shift highly qualified army men. They decided to make a market policy stronger and to shift all the intelligence into the business which will help them to rebuild their reputation and to increase the per capital income. This business spirit spread all over nation and now every person was to teach to live for their nation.
Now when the army men came in business models then they made many of business models and the Japan market was shifted into the fully commercial market instead of military cap. There some companies like Sony began to make cameras instead making the Military binocular and also Toyota also shift their models to military vehicle to general public cars.
So as these companies were expanding in other countries under their new business model Ajinomoto co. also increased their market borders and got a spread in all over the world.
Why is MSG so bad for you?
Well, e621 or MSG is the most controversial topic and people keep asking about this regularly. Most of the people ask about this topic to clear out the misconceptions and other comes who actually felt some bad things to their health. The myths around E621 are not new and many of scientists gave their own theory, but in most of the results E621’s limited dose has been said safe (10) to human body.
Actually when we consume E621 then it functions with our nervous system and works like a neurotransmitter which commands on nerve Cells to relay signals. This function made a deep fear to many of minds taking the bad effect of E621; But that’s not all, some theories also tells that a heavy intake to babies may harm their neurological abilities (11) and it is dangerous and some health agencies suggested E621’s daily intake limit that is 0.55-0.58 gm in U.K. and 1.2 and upper in some west Asian countries.
Some people also report dizziness, face muscle tightness and weakness. These cases lately revealed the result of heavy dose like 5gm of E621 in a single meal and some of them people who reported bad side effect couldn’t tell about their feels. Later who were complaining about these effects didn’t actually realize those effects as they were given same E621 included foods until they were told about them.
Everybody has its own properties and medical issue and among we all experienced a different things about E621 but it all started in 1968 when Dr. Robert Holman said that he had to face some medical issue in his body when he consumed E621 by some food in a Chinese restaurant. The allegation against E621 were not so strong to ban E621 from the whole market but from this report many people started complaining about E621 given short term health issues; later this phenomena called Chinese restaurant syndrome(12).
Besides all Government (FDA) allowed E621 (MSG) to be sold in open market but it also suggest taking normal doses in limited amount.
E621 Food Code
The Harmonized Code (13) of E621 is 29224220 and it also has some other codes which defines this term better in different subjects. Its Chemical Abstract Service (14) number is 142-47-2; Chemspider Number(15) is 76943; and its Unique Ingredients Identifier(16) (UNII) Number is C3C196L9FG. E621 can be found in several other chemical properties number which already defined in its scientific definition below in the article.
MSG (E621) is a sodium salt which is a good water soluble with no other taste and smell properties. In science term this a substance which is made by sodium cations and glutamate anions in zwitterionic form(17). The involvement of glutamate and sodium makes this food flavor enhancer totally animal tissue free or vegetarian. In appearance E621 is a tiny crystal body which is transparent and it can be look some white in color in low light.
E621 food code Halal
E621 is a Halal item technically but people and some Muslim community put this in Mushbooh(17) (a doubtful category) where the things can be consumed or used in certain condition. So on documents and on believes it only can be used in only one condition if this item is made chemically pure vegan state.
It is believed that some producers make E621 or MSG by pork fat so people should also care about from what store and from what producer they are purchasing this item. In any doubtful condition people can check the item label which will help them out to find their food Halal or Haram.
There are other foods and additives which are commonly can be seen on any product item’s label, and if you are confused then this Halal or Haram list may help you. This list is taken by Muslim consumer group(18).
What are Halal, Haram and Mushbooh?
Halal and Haram both are the words taken from Muslim Religion’s Holy Book QURAN. These both words refer the “to do” and “Not to do” action where Halal means totally acceptable and Haram mean prohibited and unlawful according to ALLAH. Mushbooh is a Arabic word which is used in the middle condition of Halal and Haram terms as a doubtful manner.
Is MSG banned in U.K?
MSG or E621 is not banned in U.K. but this product is also not listed in baby food. There are some controversy upon the limited uses of this product which later be added to all ban product items running over the myths. E621 is certified by many International food agencies and many of them didn’t find any required evidence to ban this. It is open to purchase, it is in stores, and anyone can buy it.
Some restaurant owners and food making companies stopped adding E621 into their food because of the urban E621 myth where too many people complained about their health issue after consuming it but scientist and food chemist didn’t find stronger facts over them. We can also find some famous products like KFC and Pringles (19) those ads E621 in their food and nobody complaints about them because people don’t know they include MSG and there are some other products also that stopped adding E621 completely.
In bottom line it’s a 50-50 condition where some people stay with their strong believe that E621 is the main reason of all they physical issue felt but another wing of people deny all that things always go with the scientific facts and evidence.
E621 Scientific Details
E621 or MSG’s IUPAC name is Sodium 2-Aminopentanedioate pronounced (aey-meeno-paiyntain-dio-ate). E621’s one atom includes 5 molecules of Carbon, 8 of Hydrogen and 4 of Nitro oxide with one molecule of Sodium which makes its chemical appearance with C5H8NO4NA formula. E621 is soluble in water with solubility 740gram per liter and its melting point is 232o C. E621 also has some other specific identities which include ECHA Infocard 100.005.035 and PubChem CID 85314.
What are E in foods?
E numbers in foods are certified codes given by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) for safe Buy/Sell trade in open market. Each number refers a specific food product or food additive items. This system started in 1962 when food coloring was a new thing and authorities had to manage it in a systematic way to arrange all the available food colors in on row. Later other in food items were also been added to this list and now this list holds around 1500 food items.
|S. No.||E – Numbers||Categories|
|3.||300-399||Antioxidants and acidity regulators|
|4.||400-499||Thickers, stabilizers and emulsifiers|
|5.||500-599||pH regulators and anti-caking agents|
|8.||900-999||Glazing agents, gasses and sweeteners|
Are E numbers Vegetarian?
Yes, E numbers are 100% vegetarian and anyone can consume it. All the E number certifications are given by government only bases on their vegan food-lines. These substances are taken from minerals and vegetables so which makes them fully vegan.
Is MSG cancerous?
No, MSG (E621) is not cancerous. There are many reports where people complaint about their health issue after consuming MSG (E621) but none of them came up with sufficient facts proving cancer disease over them.
What is E627 & E631?
E627 and E631 both are food additive used in packed food as potato chips and noodles. In chemical term, E627 is a sodium salt of guanylic acid and E631 is sodium salt of insonic acid.
MSG vs. Salt
MSG (E621) and salt both contains sodium and both are easily available in the open market. Seeing the MSG vs. Salt scenario it is very easy to say that it about to choose one from MSG and Salt as a main flavor enhancer.
People who complains about health issue after taking MSG couldn’t prove all the allegation medically so the rest of the people who were already in favor of MSG, saying people should use MSG as primary food enhancer instead of salt because it contains lesser sodium that salt and also add some savory taste too.
It is seen that many people is against of E621 but there are no sufficient evidence to stop consuming this as a food additive.