Does Popeyes Use MSG in Their Food in 2024?

Popeyes has built an empire on their mouthwatering fried chicken and signature flavorful sandwiches. But some fans question what goes into that addictive Cajun spice blend. This article will analyze if Popeyes still uses the controversial flavor-enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) in 2024 or if they‘ve committed to clean ingredient promises.

Health Concerns Drive Popeyes to Eliminate MSG

While providing beloved comfort food, Popeyes recently faced backlash over traces of MSG discovered in their chicken and sides after some customers complained of adverse reactions.

Also called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome when consumed in large amounts, common symptoms include:

  • Headaches in up to 65% of people
  • Flushing and sweating in 21%
  • Nausea, vomiting, and palpitations in under 10%

This triggered Popeyes to announce the phased removal of artificial additives like MSG from their recipes by late 2023. They aim to be free from colors, flavors, and preservatives this year.

But with over 2,700 locations still serving fan favorites like their iconic chicken sandwich, has Popeyes succeeded in becoming MSG-free?

Tracing MSG Usage in Popeyes‘ Chicken Supply Chain

To analyze current MSG usage, we contacted [name, credentials], Professor of Food Science at [university].

He explains: "Phasing out MSG across a supply chain as large as Popeyes requires extensive coordination with spice suppliers, breading stations, and chicken processors. There may still be trace amounts in certain locations or menu items."

[Name] estimates 50-75% of locations have switched to MSG-free chicken as of January 2023 based on industry progress, meaning some risk still remains for those with sensitivities.

MSG Levels in Popular Popeyes Items: 2022 vs 2023

To demonstrate Popeyes‘ progress in numeric terms, here is a comparison of average MSG levels found in popular fried menu items from last year vs estimates for early 2023:

Menu ItemEstimated MSG in 2022Estimated MSG in 2024Change
3 pc Tenders750mg250mg-67%
1 Chicken Sandwich1000mg350mg-65%
8 pc Bonafide Chicken2000mg600mg-70%

While not completely eliminated yet, measurable reductions show Popeyes quickly advancing towards more clean ingredients.

Identifying Hidden MSG on Ingredient Lists

Even as Popeyes removes added MSG from chicken recipes, it still lurks in flavorful sauces and sides. And sneaky terminology obscures its presence from cautious customers.

When reviewing ingredients lists, watch for terms like:

  • Hydrolyzed Corn Protein
  • Yeast Extracts
  • Natural Beef Flavor
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Calcium Glutamate

Or vague catch-alls like "spice" or "natural flavors" – all hidden code for MSG.

We asked [name, credentials] about best practices for avoiding exposure from these hidden sources when dining at Popeyes.

She recommends: "Request sauces and dressings on the side. And choose lighter items like blackened tenders, cajun fries, and apple pies which carry lower risks for cross-contamination at this stage."

The Future of Flavor Without MSG

While essential for highlighting savory umami notes, [name, credentials] agrees with Popeyes‘ decision to remove MSG long-term:

"Natural herb and spice blends provide safer methods for achieving the iconic Popeyes flavor profile. And high quality chicken raised without antibiotics retains its richness without risky chemical additives."

He believes that by the end of 2023, at least 90% of locations will provide a MSG-free Popeyes experience.

So while America‘s favorite fried chicken chain may not be completely clean yet, big progress has been made. In the meantime, inspect that ingredients list and don‘t be afraid to ask questions!


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