Whether fish or soy sauce, bouillon cubes or ‘Maggi’ – across the borders, they spice up food. A savoury taste – described as ‘Umami’ – is triggered by the substance glutamate. Glutamic acid molecules of the compound bind to special taste receptors, the so-called ‘Umami receptors’.
Something seems to be missing when glutamate or yeast extract are not used in processed foods. Products without the ‘seasoning’ of glutamic acid are described as bland and are less preferred during sensory tests. The special sensory profile of yeast extract was highlighted by Prof. Dr. Carola Strassner from the Munster University of Applied Sciences. But still, the call to abstain from the “seasoning” became even louder – be it monosodium glutamate or yeast extract. “The current debate needs to be put more clearly into the context”, demanded Prof. Strassner. “Seasoning is an essential part of our food culture, which is no longer mainly characterized by cooking, but rather by the consumption of convenience products.”
According to all of the speakers, a health risk due to glutamate has not been proven. Also, the accusation that glutamate causes the so-called ‘china restaurant syndrome’ has been refuted scientifically and medically multiple times.