Recently, there had been a post from a netizen who claimed that a monosodium glutamate (MSG), particularly the brand “Ajinomoto” is made out of pork bones, and have concerns on whether MSG are halal.
Responding to the claim, the Ministry of Health’s (KKM) Food Safety and Quality Division (FSQD) had clarified that Ajinomoto is not made out of pork and is definitely certified halal.
Meanwhile, FSQD in their Facebook post shared the screenshots of the netizen who made the false claim and warn the public to stop using Ajinomoto, as they aimed to debunk the myth that is being circulated on WhatsApp.
In their Facebook post, FSQD explained that umami is our 5th sense of taste, apart from sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
Having that said, it is nothing like the other 4 sense of taste and umami is exactly the way MSG tastes like. It is often being described as giving you a ‘savoury’ taste.
FSQD explains the term “umami” is given after the Japanese term of “flavour of meat”, and they explained that its taste is kind of like salty, but it’s not salty, and it’s not sweet either.
In addition, they explained that the taste umami gives is mainly because of glutamate, which is found in MSG. It is also known as sodium salt of glutamic acid.
“Receptors on the tongue are able to detect a protein component called glutamate. Glutamate is what umami tastes like.” they explained.
Nonetheless, they stressed that umami’s ingredient is not pork and they are naturally found in seaweed, soy sauce, cheese, cassava, mushrooms, and even breast milk.
Apart from introducing umami, FSQD said that KKM allows the use of MSG in Malaysia under Rule 23 of Food Regulations 1985 in Food Act 1983, and it is being categorised as a flavour enhancer.
FSQD did said that umami flavours can be extracted from pork, however, this is only one source of umami and there are other sources of it too. This does not conclude that MSG is made out of pork too.
“Don’t worry, the largest MSG manufacturer in Malaysia (Ajinomoto) is certified halal by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM).” they assured.
They added that the raw ingredients of Ajinomoto is 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!” they said.
Meanwhile, they reminded Malaysians to consume MSG in moderation as glutamate is not essential to our bodies and our bodies can produce its own glutamic acid.
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Read the statement from FSQD here: