As part of effort to reposition its product, West African Seasoning Company (WASCO) Limited’s safety awareness campaign train recently berthed in the South-East geo-political zone of the country, with over 130 medical professionals and food scientists affirming that the food seasoning, known as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (Aji-no-moto) is safe for consumption.
The 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 Aji-no-moto ambassadors, like Helen Paul and former Big Brother Naija contestant, Miyonse Amosu, in attendance was part of the management’s ongoing effort to reposition the 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 told the Igwe Achebe that his team was in Onitsha with the objective of continuing the company’s 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 characterised the food seasoning in the south.
In his response, Igwe Achebe, told the WASCO management not to be discouraged by the rumours in producing good products.
“Bad rumours can affect a good product and bring about de-marketing of such product. The rumours are usually from opponents and competitors who say a lot of negative things about a product to spoil the image, as you are experiencing in Aji-no-moto. But let competition take hold and strive to produce the best,” he said.
In his welcome address at a one day Umami Seminar with stakeholders, held at the All Saints Cathedral Onitsha, the WASCO boss said, MSG was 100 per cent safe for consumption, urging the participants to disregard unscientific rumours about the product.
According to him, “the seasoning is made from natural sugarcane and therefore, safe for consumption. What people are saying about Aji-no-moto is complete fake news because there is no scientific evidence to their claim. For a long time, we have kept quiet about these rumours. But now, we have decided to address them,” he said.
Speaking 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 flavour of natural food and also gives it a delicious taste.
She explained: “When you hear of umami, what comes to your mind is MSG that is Aji-no-moto MSG. And 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 bean 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 flavor that we are talking about. So, you can see it’s safe for human consumption.”
Dispelling rumours about the product, Henry-Unaeze reminded the participants that as far back as 1998, a research was carried out on MSG at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, which revealed that it was safe for human consumption.