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Ajinomoto : To Flavour or Not to

Updated on May 15, 2012


Have you ever tried the Bacon Ranch Dressing or Barbecue Dipping Sauce? Do u often eat Spicy Chicken Breast Fillet or Chicken Strips Grilled? Is the Sun Dried Tomato Sauce or the Seasoned Curly Fries becoming regular in your diet? And are you addicted to American Fast food or Chinese food?

Well, there is a common thing in all these recipes. Want to know what is the common ingredient? It’s called Monosodium Glutamate. Probably most of the people might not have heard of this ingredient. However, if the word Ajinomoto is used, you would know what I am talking about!

What is Aji-no-moto?

The factual meaning of Aji-no-moto is “Soul of Taste”. It is used extensively by most of the fast food restaurants in over 100 countries. The glutamate in this product is a natural type of amino acid found in many protein rich foods like mushrooms, legumes, nuts, tomatoes, cheese and milk. Even the human bodies have some percent of amino acids.

Aji-no-moto can make any recipe taste better instantly. Sprinkle it to a dressing and it will make the salad taste better. Rub a little Aji-no-moto on a piece of meat/chicken and the taste will change considerably. Add it to sauté and let it settle down; a magical recipe is ready. Add it to a not so fancy soup and the soup will taste 10 times better.


This substance is a “taste enhancer” which affects your brain cells directly in a way to produce an instant likeliness. We have five senses; vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste. The taste sense is further classified into 5 flavours i.e. our tongue recognizes five tastes – salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. However Aji-no-moto gives out a sixth taste which is called the savoury taste aka umami. This taste enhances our salivary glands and prepares the tongue to like it.

Contrary to the typecast Oriental or Chinese food, a staple diet of an American is more likely to encounter MSG in canned food, beef/chicken stocks, seasoned potato chips and regular frozen food. Even the cup noodles are flavoured with MSG.

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To use or not to use

The usage of Aji-no-moto stays in debates and discussions. Great amount of money has been spent on the research of Aji-no-moto. The FDA, Food and Drug Administration recommend it to be a safe product and categorises in it the GRAS – generally recognised as safe product.

Aji-no-moto is an alternative name for MSG. If any product label says – No MSG, it would not always mean that the product is MSG-free. There are various other forms to it and is recognized by many other names. For example – Gelatine, textured protein, yeast food/nutrient, corn gluten, hydrolyzed protein, glutamate acid etc. These are all various forms of MSG. Hence; when deciding to buy any MSG-free product, do check for the alternatives list.

The usage of aji-no-moto remains controversial. Using it in any product leads to nausea, obesity, headache, numbness, sweating or tingling in the mouth. This is not entirely true. The usage of aji-no-moto can be harmful but like any other food; only if used excessively. Regular use of aji-no-moto is considered harmful. A healthy person will have less events of suffering from these conditions than a person with condition like arthritis, asthma, diabetes or any other food allergy. Children up to 12 yrs are advised to avoid the seasoned/flavoured food having aji-no-moto or for that matter, any other MSG to it. Aji-no-moto does not substitute salt completely, but is definitely a good-to-use product as it reduces the need of added salt.

After reading and researching on MSG or Aji-no-moto, if you think that throwing away the aji-no-moto bottle will be a better option, then you might be mistaken. It would be there hiding in your plain sight and you will not even be able to recognise. It’s up to you to let it stay or discard it. The only precaution can be to limit the usage.


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    • profile image

      jqp3 18 months ago

      I like to add ajinomoto to the back of my hand, it makes it taste so delicious!

    • profile image

      Kuttyboy07 3 years ago

      I am running a fast food center I want my customers to have a healthy food can u pls say is there any substitute for ajinomoto .... Or any other combination is available to get that savory flavor

    • Raitu Disong profile image

      Raitu Disong 4 years ago

      I was told that Ajinomoto is made from the bones(i don't think so) and that it is poisonous!

      But I continue to use it even to this day, and I think I am already a Ajino moto addict lol..,

      Anyway thank you Jyoti for sharing:)

    • Jyoti Patil profile image

      Jyoti Patil 5 years ago from Mumbai

      I totally agree with you desertlab. Anything over-used is harmful. So to blame an ingredient makes no sense. Thanks for liking my hub

    • desertlab profile image

      desertlab 5 years ago

      We've been using it regularly for many years since I was a kid but in a very little amount like less than half of a pinch. I don't know exactly what to believe in, some say 'yes' it's harmful and some say 'no', whatever it is, it makes you a good chef in your kitchen. Very interesting hub!