Naming and Praising Awards – October 2002
A SIRC Naming and Praising Award goes to the nutritionist and journalist, Amanda Ursell for her thoughtful and balanced piece in the Daily Telegraph Can monosodium glutamate harm your eyesight?
Ursell casts her critical eye over a report in the New Scientist that linked the food additive monosodium glutimate to the destruction of retinal cells in lab rats. This, the report suggested may be contributing to the high levels of normal tension glaucoma in the peoples of eastern Asia.
Ursell should be congratulated for looking beyond the headline and scrutinising certain aspects of the study's design and a number of its conclusions. She correctly points out that:
- "The rats were fed colossally high amounts [of MSG], equivalent to a 60kg woman eating about 540g of the seasoning every day."
- "Monosodium glutamate is actually a self-limiting ingredient." Any attempt to add vast quantities to our food would render it quite inedible.
- The high rate of normal tension glaucoma in eastern Asia is generally attributed to genetic, rather than dietary influences.
So, was the headline in the New Scientist a fair reflection of the report? In Amanda Ursell's own words:
"It sounds plausible, until you take a closer look at the facts."
29 October 2002