What is Ajinomoto?

Are you wondering what is Ajinomoto? Ajinomoto is the brand name for MSG (monosodium glutamate). Ajinomoto is a popular food ingredient that has been used ever since 1909. Several bodies, including the SCF (Scientific Committee for Food) of the European Commission, the FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), and the Foods Standards Australia New Zealand all assert that MSG is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorize it as ‘generally recognized as safe’ (or GRAS).

Aji no Moto literally translates to ‘Essence of Taste’. So, what is Ajinomoto history? The Chinese and the Japanese had been tapping into the advantages of the flavor enhancing properties of glutamate for hundreds of years before Professor Ikeda at the University of Tokyo isolated glutamate from a dried Konbu broth. This was back in 1908.

The protein molecule is made up of 20 amino acids, one being glutamatic acid. MSG is the salt version of this acid. Ajinomoto is found in different products that are on food shelves. These include sugar cane molasses and fermented sugar beet. Ajinomoto is popular because it stimulates the umami taste. The 4 basic tastes have traditionally been sour, sweet, bitter, and salty, but it is not believed that there is a 5th basic taste called umami, which is the savory taste. This is the taste that you find in such foods as ripe cheese and tomatoes. Eating foods that are seasoned with Ajinomoto will therefore stimulate the umami or glutamate receptors in your tongue and will enhance the foods’ savory flavor.

The biggest producer of Ajinomoto is Ajinomoto Co. Inc. The Japanese food and chemical corporation is involved in the production of seasonings, amino acids, TV dinners, cooking oils, sweeteners, and even pharmaceuticals. Outside Asia, North America is the biggest consumer of Ajinomoto.


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