Eateries Told to Display Ajinomoto Use

If you use monosodium glutamate (MSG or ajinomoto) in food items, display this information clearly on your premises. This is what the Commissioner of Food Safety T V Anupama has stipulated in an order to all hotels, restaurants, bakeries and other eateries in the state.

Those who violate the order will have to pay a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh and can have their licence cancelled.

According to the orders issued by the commissioner, the public display should clearly state, “this establishment uses MSG as a flavouring agent in the following food items. These food items should not be given to children below 1 year of age.”

According to a Food Safety official, MSG is being indiscriminately used by many eateries. Even table pepper was found mixed with MSG in one restaurant during a recent inspection, said the official.

“In the case of packaged foods, food manufacturers are expected to give clear label information that the food item contains MSG, with the warning that it should not be consumed by children below 12 months of age. We are insisting that the hotel industry should comply with the same regulation by declaring that food items contain MSG,” said food safety officials.

Other stipulations

Eateries are also required to have proper facilities for washing vegetables and raw materials. Violation can invite a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

It is also stipulated that all food and beverage outlets should display their food safety licence and the Commissioner of Food Safety toll-free number 1800 425 1125.

MSG use remains controversial

Crystalline MSG
Crystalline MSG

MSG (Ajinomoto is actually a brand name) is widely used as an additive to give food added taste. A naturally occurring chemical glutamate, it has no flavour of its own, but enhances other flavours.

Food regulatory authorities in India have not as yet fixed any limit for “added MSG”. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given MSG its generally recognized as safe (GRAS) designation, but its use remains controversial. For this reason, when MSG is added to food, the FDA requires that it be listed on the label.