Chinese Restaurant Syndrome
is a problematic term.

Let’s set the record straight

Hey @MerriamWebster, it’s time to #RedefineCRS. Your definition of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome is seriously outdated. Here's why: redefineCRS.com.

The CRS Problem

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome isn’t just scientifically false — it’s xenophobic.

See what Eddie Huang, Jeannie Mai and a licensed doctor have to say when they read the actual definition for the first time.

The Current Definition

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

a group of symptoms (such as numbness of the neck, arms, and back with headache, dizziness, and palpitations) that is held to affect susceptible persons eating food and especially Chinese food heavily seasoned with monosodium glutamate.

Our Proposed Definition

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

an outdated term that falsely blamed Chinese food containing MSG, or monosodium glutamate, for a group of symptoms (such as headaches, dizziness, and heart palpitations).

The #RedefineCRS Twitter feed

The Questionable History of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

In 1968, a letter to the editor of a prestigious medical journal described the author’s anecdotal account of generalized weakness, palpitations, and numbness in the arms after eating at a Chinese restaurant. He noted that any number of ingredients may have caused his symptoms – salt, alcohol from Chinese cooking wine, MSG. However, the latter spawned the idea that MSG may be associated with such symptoms, which was coined “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.”

The term spread like wildfire, appearing in major newspapers, scientific journals, and even the dictionary. However, American scientists have independently and repeatedly verified that MSG is safe to consume using validated scientific methods.

To this day, the myth around MSG is ingrained in America’s consciousness, with Asian food and culture still receiving unfair blame. Chinese Restaurant Syndrome isn’t just scientifically false — it’s xenophobic.

Common Questions About MSG

What is MSG?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a seasoning that combines sodium (like that in table salt) with glutamate, one of 20 amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Glutamate imparts a savory taste and is inherently present in foods, such as tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, and even breast milk.

Is MSG safe?

Yes. Health experts have endorsed its safety based on extensive scientific research and a long history of use around the world. MSG is not an allergen, and an international panel of headache experts removed MSG from a list of headache triggers in 2018 due to lack of scientific evidence.

Why Use MSG?

MSG is the purest form of umami, one of the five known tastes alongside sweet, salty, sour and bitter. In addition to increasing the flavor of food, MSG can reduce the need for table salt, and thus lower the sodium amount in a dish by up to 40%.