Can you be allergic to Chinese food?

Chinese food

Can you be allergic to Chinese food?

The Chinese takeaway – a staple for every Brit. This country has a love for this Eastern cuisine – in fact, it’s the most popular choice for a large section of the UK public.

But have you ever felt bloated, sick, and had a pounding headache after eating one? You aren’t alone. But it isn’t just Chinese food that can trigger symptoms. Any food that contains high amounts of the flavour enhancer MSG seems to have an effect on some people. So can you be allergic to MSG? Let’s take a look…

Can you be allergic to MSG?

MSG allergy has been disputed for some time now. One 2019 review stated there isn’t enough evidence to confirm that MSG hypersensitivity exists. That same review states that the amount of MSG in foods isn’t high enough to cause a serious adverse reaction. We need more evidence before we can say that MSG allergy exists. At most, some speculate that it could be a sensitivity, which is different from an allergy.

But I have symptoms after eating MSG 

We currently don’t have enough evidence to confirm that MSG allergies and sensitivities exist, but they still might. In fact, there have been cases of anaphylaxis that seem to be tied to MSG consumption. If you experience symptoms after consuming MSG, it’s still possible that you have a sensitivity known as ‘MSG symptom complex’.

MSG symptom complex refers to the symptoms a person may experience after eating foods containing high amounts of MSG. Mild symptoms include headache, stomach problems, numbness or burning around the mouth, and fatigue. In worse cases, a sufferer may experience chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis.


Simply avoiding MSG is the best treatment. While MSG can be found in almost any food, there are some with a higher concentration than others. Meat, poultry, fish, and cheese contain high amounts of MSG, therefore these foods are best avoided. As MSG is a flavour enhancer, it’s also commonly found in seasoning, condiments, junk food, and tinned foods, such as soup.

There isn’t enough evidence yet to prove that MSG allergies exist, but if you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.

Worried about a potential allergy? Get in touch with London Allergy & Immunology Centre. Our team of professionals can test you for allergies and help you keep your allergies under control. Call us now on 02031 433 449.

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