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Majority of people in the U.S. are confused by conflicting food advice, rely on intuition over science

ITASCA, Ill., June 17, 2024 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — The Ajinomoto Group, first and leading U.S. manufacturer of monosodium glutamate (MSG), has released the first-ever Food Infodemic Report – a nationwide survey conducted with YouGov that examines the impact of food misinformation in the U.S. Among its findings, the study of more than 3,000 U.S. adults revealed:

Eat Well, Live Well. Ajinomoto
  • 69% of people have seen conflicting food advice on social media.
  • 71% admit to adopting food beliefs and behaviors not grounded in science.
  • 57% have changed their eating behaviors based on something they saw on social media.
  • 60% rely on their intuition and personal knowledge to assess food claims they see on social media.
  • People are more likely to put garlic up their nose for congestion relief than to check if a social influencer is qualified (30% vs. 25%).

“As a leading manufacturer of MSG, we understand the ramifications of misinformation and the importance of facts and science in setting the record straight,” said Tia M. Rains, PhD, Vice President of Science, Innovation & Corporate Affairs at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition, North America, Inc. “The food infodemic isn’t unique to MSG, so we launched this study to better understand the sources, causes, and societal consequence of misinformation more broadly, with the goal of creating a more informed and inclusive food culture.”

According to the report, food misinformation is not only leading to unnecessary avoidance of foods, but is perpetuating the stigmatization of diverse cuisines and cultures:  

  • Nearly half of respondents from communities of color have personally experienced or witnessed ridicule over their cultural or heritage foods (Asian 52%, Black 46%, Hispanic 46%, compared to 33% for non-Hispanic White).
  • Also evident is the myth of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” which emerged in 1968, falsely linking MSG to health concerns despite decades of scientific evidence confirming its safety; the stigma still causes some people to shun MSG and unjustly stigmatizes Asian cuisine. 26% of respondents avoid restaurants that use MSG, with 20% avoiding Chinese food entirely due to MSG concerns.
  • While 81% of respondents agree that food allows them to experience other cultures, more than one-third (34%) say they have tried to avoid specific cultural cuisines in hopes of being healthier.

“Food should be a source of joy and connection, but misinformation can divide us,” said Dr. Rains. “Our goal with this report is to shed light on the wide range of conflicting – and often bizarre – information flooding our social media feeds. Ultimately, we hope to inspire more thoughtful and inclusive food exploration and encourage people to check qualified sources and rely on the science.”

For the full, designed report and tips for navigating food misinformation, visit www.KnowMSG.com.

About The Ajinomoto Group’s Campaigns to Correct Public Perception of MSG  
In 2018, the Ajinomoto Group embarked on a mission to set the record straight about MSG in the U.S., working with nutrition scientists, culinary experts and the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community to unravel years of unfounded stigma. The company started by successfully lobbying Merriam Webster’s Dictionary to revise the outdated and racist definition of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” When COVID-19 swept the country, The Ajinomoto Group launched an online initiative encouraging the public to “Take Out Hate” by ordering from their local Asian restaurants, which were closing at double the rate of others due to misinformation and a rise in anti-Asian xenophobia. In 2020, the company revealed the new “Know MSG” symbol to replace outdated “No MSG” signs and challenge assumptions about MSG. In 2022, the company challenged chemophobic roots of “clean” eating diets with a public invitation for Goop to join the brand for #DinnerWithGoop to learn about the facts about MSG’s safety. In 2023, the Ajinomoto Group’s tongue-in-cheek #CancelPizza initiative leveraged humor to spotlight the irony of condemning MSG seasoning, while embracing other foods with inherently present MSG, like quintessential pizza ingredients. Due to these efforts, more than 34 million US consumers have changed their opinions to state they believe MSG is safe to eat.

About Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
The Ajinomoto Group aims to resolve food and health issues associated with dietary habits and aging and contribute to greater wellness for people worldwide. Based on the corporate message “Eat Well, Live Well.”, the company has been scientifically pursuing the possibilities of amino acids to aim for future growth by creating new value through sustainable and innovative solutions for communities and society. The Ajinomoto Group has offices in 36 countries and regions, and sells products in more than 130 countries and regions. In fiscal 2022, sales were 1.359 trillion yen (9.4 billion U.S. dollars). To learn more, visit www.ajinomoto.com

About Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc.   
Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ajinomoto Group, a global leader in the research, development, manufacture and sale of amino acid-based products for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, sports nutrition, health and beauty industries, as well as food ingredients. The company opened its first U.S. office in New York in 1917 and has since grown and expanded its presence, establishing offices and production facilities in North Carolina, Iowa and Illinois. Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. leverages an international manufacturing, supply and distribution chain to bring the highest-grade products to customers. For additional information on Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc., please visit http://www.ajihealthandnutrition.com

Media Contact: Caroline Tortorella 
[email protected]

For more information on the safety, science and benefits of MSG visit www.KnowMSG.com. Follow @KnowMSG on TikTok and @Know_MSG on Instagram.   

The Food Infodemic Report by The Ajinomoto Group was created in response to a nationwide survey on the complex state of eating in the U.S. and aims to foster a more informed, inclusive food culture.

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SOURCE Ajinomoto Co., Inc