MOH Food Safety Dept Debunks Myth That Ajinomoto Is Made Out Of Pork

"Don't simply blacklist or avoid a restaurant just because you see a pack of Ajinomoto!" they said.

Cover image via Bahagian Keselamatan dan Kualiti Makanan Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (Facebook)

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The Ministry of Health's (MOH) Food Safety and Quality Division (FSQD) has spoken: Ajinomoto is not made out of pork.

And it is definitely certified halal.

The food safety regulatory agency released a public service announcement on Facebook after it found some netizens making false claims about monosodium glutamate (MSG) on the Internet.

The screenshots showed people warning others to stop using Ajinomoto because the umami seasoning is "made out of pork bones".

"Before this fictitious myth goes circulating on WhatsApp again, let us first equip ourselves with some knowledge," the agency said.

FSQD states that umami is simply a sense of taste, and it is the fifth basic taste besides sweet, sour, salty, and bitter

It is not an ingredient made from pork.

According to the agency, umami is the way MSG tastes like. In English, it is often called 'savoury'.

"In Japanese, it means the flavour of meat. Try describing the taste of meat in one word," the agency asked. "You'd want to call it salty, but it's not salty. And it's not sweet either."

The agency explains that this is because of glutamate found in MSG, which is also known as the sodium salt of glutamic acid.

"Receptors on the tongue are able to detect a protein component called glutamate. Glutamate is what umami tastes like," the agency explains.

Examples of foods naturally rich in umami are seaweed, soy sauce, cheese, cassava, mushrooms, and even breast milk.

Image via Dieline

Besides that, the food safety division said the MOH allows the use of MSG in Malaysia

According to them, it is categorised as a flavour enhancer, permitted under Rule 23 of Food Regulations 1985 in Food Act 1983.

Explaining the screenshots, the agency said it is true that umami flavours can be extracted from pork, as after all, it is a source of meat. But that doesn't mean MSG is made from pork.

"Don't worry, the largest MSG manufacturer in Malaysia (Ajinomoto) is certified halal by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM)," they assured.

Its raw ingredients are cassava and sugarcane.

"So don't be so scared. Don't simply blacklist or avoid a restaurant just because you see a pack of Ajinomoto!"

However, the agency does remind consumers to eat MSG in moderation.

"Glutamate is not essential to our bodies. Because our bodies can produce its own glutamic acid," they said.

MSG has a bad reputation all over the world. But to be honest, it's just a type of salt:

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