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The Campaign to Redefine ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’

Jan 16, 2020 - The New York Times

The leading maker of MSG started a push to ask Merriam-Webster to change its definition of the term, first added in 1968.

The leading maker of MSG started a push to ask Merriam-Webster to change its definition of the term, first added in 1968.

Merriam-Webster added “Chinese restaurant syndrome” to its dictionaries in 1968. The definition described symptoms affecting “susceptible persons eating food and especially Chinese food heavily seasoned with monosodium glutamate.”

The entry came shortly after a physician, Robert Ho Man Kwok, wrote The New England Journal of Medicine to describe an unusual malady. Whenever he ate at a Chinese restaurant, he said, he felt a peculiar numbness...