BBQ chips = itchy throat?
August 16, 2005 1:50 AM   Subscribe

Why do BBQ-flavor potato chips make my throat itch?

When I eat barbecue potato chips, of any brand, my throat feels itchy and tingly. A little irritated, but not swollen. It goes away after an hour or so, but it bothers me enough that I avoid barbecue chips. No other chip flavor or food does this to me. I have no other food allergies, but several garden-variety, hayfever-causing airborne ones. Any ideas what this is?
posted by clh to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Well, those flavorings on the chips are filled with MSG. Perhaps you are sensitive to it.

Here are some of the ingredients that are MSG even though they don't say they are!
posted by abbyladybug at 4:13 AM on August 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

If it was MSG, many other foods would trigger it. The only thing I can think of is artificial smoke flavour (also known as liquid smoke).
posted by deaddodo at 4:25 AM on August 16, 2005

How do the chips taste? Can you detect differences between the brands or do they all taste the same?

If your allergic to them there should (with me at least) be something odd in the flavor that'll give you a hint. I'm actually allergic to artichokes but didn't figure it out until I'd had it a few times. They tasted aweful to me but I figured it must have been an acquired taste like beer or coffee. Turns out the "pins and needles" sensation in my tongue wasn't why people eat them... it was an allergic reaction.
posted by jwells at 5:49 AM on August 16, 2005

I thought it was reasonably well established that MSG in responsible dosages is unlikely to be the root cause of reactions. That said, perhaps the artificial colourings & flavour enhancers are more possibly the culprit. Otherwise, do you get a similar reaction eating spicy foods? Maybe it's them.
posted by peacay at 6:03 AM on August 16, 2005

Not all allergens taste funny, jwells. I'm allergic to coconut oil, but if I don't check ingredient lists I don't know I've eaten it until about 10 or 20 minutes later, when my tongue and lips start swelling up.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:05 AM on August 16, 2005

Bananas make my throat and ears itch, they don't contain MSG. I would guess your throat itches for the same reason mine does, you are slightly allergic to something in the flavoring.
posted by 517 at 6:30 AM on August 16, 2005

The development of BBQ flavour is one that actually includes bits of smoke from wood and other biomass. I'm sure it's something in this process that makes your throad itch. It's pre-coffee so I have to run, but that might give you more info to search on.
posted by fionab at 6:39 AM on August 16, 2005

Good point. I got the picture I'm not terribly sensitive to it as I don't get the swelling and since its such a large part of the dish (artichoke guacamole for instance). That must be why I can taste it. The chips probably wouldn't "taste" allergic to anyone but the folks that are allergic to potatoes.
posted by jwells at 6:50 AM on August 16, 2005

You can go for some alergy tests in a health centre, I know Holland and Barret do a test for £45 and they do a food/vitamin definacy test.

My results came out as intollerant to:

Milk (used to give me a stomach ache)
Cheese ("")
Eggs (my tongue used to have a few small blisters when I ate them)
Tea (caffein sent my head fuzzy)
Coffee ("")

Ever since I had the test, I can feel the effects when eating the wrong food. So far Ive lost loads of weight by avoiding the foods that I am intollerent too.

Try it out, you could be intollerent/alergic to MSG or Wheat.
posted by spooksie at 7:59 AM on August 16, 2005

OP here... I doubt it's MSG. I'm not vigilant in my eating habits at all, so I'm sure I injest MSG often, yet only BBQ chips do this to me. I can't answer the "do they taste different" question. I rarely eat BBQ chips, because of my reaction to them, and they aren't the kind of thing one "accidentally" eats, like peanuts or coconut oil.
Like I said, no other food does this to me - spicy or not. I'm leaning toward something in the BBQ flavoring in particular. Maybe the liquid smoke thing, although wouldn't that be in BBQ sauce? That doesn't bother me at all. Who knows?
I was curious if anyone else experiences this. Thanks for all the suggestions!
posted by clh at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2005

I'd be careful about eating BBQ chips again, clh - hazelnuts used to make my throat itch, until one time, I thought I would see if I could "duplicate the results" and I ended up in the ER. My throat, eyes, and nose all swelled shut and I thought I might choke before anyone could help me.

That was stupid. Learn from my mistake.
posted by pinky at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2005

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