…AS WASCO takes its safety awareness to South East
By Chioma Obinna
A group of over 130 medical professionals including scientists weekend dispel rumours surrounding the use of Ajinomoto seasoning for food saying it is safe for consumption even as the Management of the West African Seasoning Company Limited, WASCO, makers of the product also known as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) took its safety awareness campaign to the South-East geopolitical zone of the country.
The Umami food seasoning has been across the globe for over 100 years. The Aji-nomoto safety awareness campaign in the zone began with a courtesy visit to the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, at his residence in Onitsha, Anambra State, by top management of WASCO led by its Managing Director, Mr. Niki Junichi.
The visit which had Ajinomoto Ambassadors, popular comedian, Helen Paul and Influencer chef and former Big Brother Naija contestant, Miyonse Amosu in attendance was part of the management’s ongoing efforts to reposition the umami product in the country, particularly to dispel myths and misconceptions about the Japanese food seasoning through the support of opinion leaders, community influencers, nutritionists, food scientists and healthcare professionals.
Junichi said they were in Onitsha with the objective of continuing their interaction with the medical, scientific and professionals groups with the aim of using their platforms to dispel the falsehood, perception issues as well as misconceptions that characterized the product in the south.
Speaking at a one-day Umami Seminar with stakeholders, in Onitsha, Junichi said MSG was 100 per cent safe for consumption, urging the public to disregard unscientific rumours about the product. “The seasoning is made from natural sugarcane and therefore, safe for consumption. What people are saying about the product is completely fake news because there is no scientific evidence to their claim. For a long time, we have kept quiet about these rumours and have now decided to address them.”
On the topic: “MSG: A Safe Food Flavour Enhancer”, a lecturer at the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Dr Helen Henry-Unaeze, said glutamate enhances the flavour of natural food and also gives it a delicious taste.
“When you hear of umami, what comes to your mind is MSG that is Aji-no-moto. MSG simply means sodium salt of glutamatic acid which is an amino acid that is naturally in our body and present in all food especially in protein-rich foods. We have it in plant foods, animal, onion, tomato, carrot, locust beans like Daddawa, castor oil bean seed and Iru. When you ferment them, the glutamate in them rises and it’s actually the glutamate that impacts the umami flavour that we are talking about. So, it’s safe.”
He recalled that a 1998 research carried out on MSG at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, revealed that it was safe for consumption.
The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, Prof. Ernest Igwe said: “MSG is safe for human consumption no doubt but it appears there is a campaign of calumny against the product. Since I was a kid that the rumour started, there has not been any substantiated and scientific fact to the allegations. Categorically, like every other safe food, Aji-nomoto is safe.”
Also, President, Association of Resident Doctors, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Stanley Egbogu, said:”We have used Aji-nomoto in the past and we are still using it in the present. Some patients mentioned that they took it and they had diarrhoea. But the truth is that most diarrhoea diseases are infectious and the product does not cause diarrhoea.
Responding, Igwe Achebe told the WASCO management not to be discouraged by the rumours in producing good products.