Merriam-Webster revises 'Chinese restaurant syndrome' entry

  • FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2020, file photo, customers are seen through the window of a Chinese restaurant decorated with menu items in New York City. Merriam-Webster has updated its entry on 'úChinese restaurant syndrome,'Ě a term many Asian Americans saw as antiquated and even racist. The phrase was previously defined as a legitimate illness brought on by food seasoned with monosodium glutamate but 'úespecially Chinese food.'Ě

    FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2020, file photo, customers are seen through the window of a Chinese restaurant decorated with menu items in New York City. Merriam-Webster has updated its entry on 'úChinese restaurant syndrome,'Ě a term many Asian Americans saw as antiquated and even racist. The phrase was previously defined as a legitimate illness brought on by food seasoned with monosodium glutamate but 'úespecially Chinese food.'Ě Associated Press

  • FILE - This Nov. 28, 2019, file photo shows a plate of sweet and sour pork served at a Chinese restaurant in New York City. Merriam-Webster has updated its entry on 'úChinese restaurant syndrome,'Ě a term many Asian Americans saw as antiquated and even racist. The phrase was previously defined as a legitimate illness brought on by food seasoned with monosodium glutamate but 'úespecially Chinese food.'Ě

    FILE - This Nov. 28, 2019, file photo shows a plate of sweet and sour pork served at a Chinese restaurant in New York City. Merriam-Webster has updated its entry on 'úChinese restaurant syndrome,'Ě a term many Asian Americans saw as antiquated and even racist. The phrase was previously defined as a legitimate illness brought on by food seasoned with monosodium glutamate but 'úespecially Chinese food.'Ě Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 7:09 PM

Merriam-Webster has updated its entry on 'úChinese restaurant syndrome,'Ě a term many Asian Americans saw as antiquated and even racist.

The phrase was previously defined as a legitimate illness brought on by food seasoned with monosodium glutamate but 'úespecially Chinese food.'Ě Merriam-Webster.com said symptoms include numbness of the neck, arms and back as well as headaches and dizziness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Now, the definition has a detailed disclaimer noting the term as 'údated'Ě and 'úoffensive.'Ě It also states research conducted since the so-called syndrome was reported in the 1960s has not found any link between MSG and those symptoms.

It also contains a link to another entry - the more clinical term, 'úMSG symptom complex.'Ě

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, confirmed the changes.

'úThis process is always ongoing, and includes the gathering of evidence and drafting of revisions to be reviewed by specialized and senior editors before being added to a scheduled release of changes,'Ě he said.

He did not say when the revisions were made.

The issue gained attention in January when Ajinomoto, a longtime Japanese producer of MSG seasonings, called on Merriam-Webster to alter its entry. The company hired restaurateur Eddie Huang and 'úThe Real'Ě TV co-host Jeannie Mai for a social media campaign.

MSG comes from glutamate, a common amino acid or protein building block found in food. The Food and Drug Administration says MSG is generally recognized as a safe addition to food. In previous studies with people identifying as sensitive to MSG, researchers found that neither MSG nor a placebo caused consistent reactions, the agency said.

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