Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Recipe Contains A Controversial Secret Ingredient

Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich contains monosodium glutamate, otherwise known as MSG.

A man walks by a Chick-fil-A.
Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich contains monosodium glutamate, otherwise known as MSG.

Sales at the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A have continued to skyrocket in recent years, as it seems that the food has become more popular than ever. The restaurant is often looked at as somewhat of a “healthier” alternative to other fast food chains, as they do offer fruit, salads, wraps and other low-calorie items. It’s been well known for years that the company does use peanut oil to fry up their popular chicken sandwiches. Now it’s been revealed that there is another secret ingredient in the recipe, monosodium glutamate, otherwise known as MSG. This ingredient, although not necessarily bad for you, is fairly controversial, according to Today.

MSG is a type of sodium that comes from amino acid glutamic acid. This acid can be found in healthy produce, such as tomatoes and mushrooms. It’s been known to enhance flavor in a lot of popular snack items like Doritos or Hidden Valley Ranch. MSG has had the reputation of being an unhealthy ingredient in the past, with a lot of mixed information swirling about regarding its potential health consequences. In the 1980s, people began backing away from using it because it was said to cause nausea and headaches when consumed. Even though there was never any actual evidence that these symptoms could be positively linked to MSG, many people were still hesitant about it.

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, declares that MSG is “generally recognized as safe.”

So why does this ingredient still have a bad reputation? Nutrition and wellness expert Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, said he believes it’s because people believe that to be healthy, it is important to avoid foods with high sodium content. They might not realize that there are different kinds of sodium, and not all of it is necessarily bad for you.

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“I think that people can legitimately feel bad after eating a meal that is very high in sodium, whether that sodium comes from salt or MSG. That doesn’t mean that MSG is harmful. Also, they may have a sensitivity to gluten or another food additive that could be in their meal.”

Just like any other ingredient or food additive, MSG certainly has the potential to be dangerous if you happen to be allergic to it or have an intolerance to it. It’s really no different than something like an allergy to peanuts, dairy, or gluten. While it may be perfectly fine for some people, there’s always the chance that it won’t agree with you. The bottom line is, we shouldn’t fear MSG but should be aware of how it affects our body, just like any other ingredient.