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WASCO takes safety awareness on food seasoning to South East

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Marketing Manager WASCO, Isa Shallangwa (left); Nutritionist, Dr. Helen Unaeze; Influencer Chef, Miyonse Amosu; GM African Business Development, Sato Takashi; the Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Alfred Achebe; Managing Director WASCO, Niki Junichi; Brand Ambassador, Helen Paul; and Corporate Communication officer WASCO, Francisca Ikediashi, during a courtesy visit to the Obi of Onitsha

The West African Seasoning Company (WASCO) Limited, makers of Ajinomoto food seasoning, has taken its safety awareness campaign train moves to the South-East geo-political zone of the country, with over 130 medical professionals and food scientists affirming that the food seasoning also known as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is safe for consumption.

The Ajinomoto 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 comedienne, Helen Paul and Influencer chef and former Big Brother Naija contestant, Miyonse Amosu, in attendance was part of the management’s ongoing effort 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 told the Royal Father that 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 characterised Ajinomoto MSG in the south.

In his welcome address at a one day Umami Seminar with stakeholders, held at the Presidential Hall, All Saints Cathedral Onitsha, the WASCO boss said MSG is 100 percent safe for consumption, urging the participants to disregard unscientific rumours about the product, describing them as ‘fake news.’

According to him, umami is the fifth basic taste along with sweet, bitter, salty and sour while glutamate is an amino acid found naturally in protein-containing foods such as meat, tomato, vegetables, poultry and human breast milk.

“The seasoning is made from natural sugarcane and therefore, safe for consumption. What people are saying about Ajinomoto 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 Ajinomoto 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, and locust bean like Dawadawa, castor oil bean seed and Iru.

When you ferment them, the glutamate in them rises and it’s actually the glutamate that impact 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.

In their separate remarks, participants at the workshop also confirmed the safety of Ajinomoto.

The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, Prof. Ernest Igwe, said he was at the seminar to join the company in dispelling rumours about the MSG product.

Prof Igwe who has been teaching Food Safety and Toxicology at the Department of Food Science and Technology of the university for the past 27 years, said: “First and foremost, let’s be frank to ourselves. No food or even water is 100 percent safe. So, 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, Ajinomoto is safe.”

Also, President, Association of Resident Doctors, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Stanley Egbogu, said:” We have used Ajinomoto in the past and we are still using it in the present. Some patients mentioned that they took it and they had diarrhea. But the truth is that, most diarrhoea diseases are infectious and not mainly from seasoning.”

“Naturally, the product does not cause diarrhea. Safety of Ajinomoto is guaranteed. It’s just an MSG product”, he added.

Earlier 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 Ajinomoto. But let competition take hold and strive to produce the best”, he said.


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