Main content

Chinese restaurant syndrome

A 1960's food scare when American diners began to worry that Chinese food was making them ill.

Diners at Chinese restaurants in America in the 1960's began to report unusual symptoms, including headaches, flushing, numbness at the back of the neck.

It was linked to the man-made flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG – but it was also part of wider attitudes towards Chinese restaurants at the time.

Lucy Burns speaks to restaurateurs Philip Chiang and Ed Schoenfeld about their memories of what became known as 'Chinese restaurant syndrome'.

Photo credit: Plates of Chinese food (Dean Conger/Corbis via Getty Images)

Available now

10 minutes

Broadcasts

The World War Two collection

The World War Two collection

Looking back at almost six years of global conflict, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust

The Witness History podcast

The Witness History podcast

Every programme, to download and keep

The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution

From the Bolshevik takeover of 1917 to the break-up of the Soviet Union

When animals made history

When animals made history

Events from history when animals took centre stage

Great moments in Olympic history

Great moments in Olympic history

Stories of endurance, world records and remarkable athletes

African history collection

African history collection

The communities, politics, leaders and events that have shaped Africa

Podcast