Ajinomoto seeks to ‘set the record straight’ on MSG

In Ajinomoto’s 2020 report, president and CEO Takaaki Nishii said, “We have seen positive effects from our

In Ajinomoto’s 2020 report, president and CEO Takaaki Nishii said, “We have seen positive effects from our awareness raising activities launched in full-scale from 2018. In a survey in the United States, more than 60% of people (based on annual consumer perception surveys conducted by the company), mainly dieticians, had a positive view of MSG, and there is a growing move to adopt MSG in menu items by major restaurant chains and plant-based meat substitutes.”

Ajinomoto’s latest consumer education campaign, ‘Know MSG’, is building on this consumer knowledge about not only the safety of MSG in food applications, but also its versatility, said Tia Rains, VP of customer engagement & strategic development at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America.

Considered GRAS (generally recognized as a safe) by the FDA and approved as a food additive in Europe, few food ingredients have been as maligned as MSG, which was discovered in 1908 as a flavor enhancer and sodium reduction tool, said Rains.

MSG, short for monosodium glutamate, is a seasoning made up of the amino acid glutamate (naturally present in tomatoes, mushrooms, aged cheeses and meats) and sodium that delivers an umami flavor, a taste profile rising in popularity in the US​. It is produced on a commercial scale via the bacterial fermentation of sugars.

Despite its original roots as an ingredient to help people enjoy their food more, particularly vegetables and proteins, the man-made ingredient has been criticized for decades – most recently in a citizen’s petition​ filed by the nonprofit Truth in Labeling Campaign – for its purported link to neurodegenerative effects.