In its order dated 31st March 2016 FSSAI has clarified how Monosodium Glutamate can be used as a flavor enhancer in seasoning for noodles and pasta. According to Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation 2011, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) with an INS number 621 can be added to only specific foods. According to these regulations MSG can be added as a seasoning for noodles, pasta, meat tenderizer, onion salt, garlic salt, seasoning mix, topping to sprinkle on rice, fermented soybean paste and yeast and cannot be used in other foods.
The order states that it is a well-known fact that Glutamate is naturally found in a number of common foods like milk, spices, wheat, vegetables etc. Monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of glutamic acid and one of the many forms of glutamate. At present, there is no analytical method to determine if MSG is naturally present in the product or was added during the manufacturing process. The only way to do so is to check the plant physically to see if MSG is being added to the products during manufacturing.
FSSAI has clarified that MSG may be added to specific foods as per the provisions of Appendix A but is subject to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) level and only when there is proper declaration as specified in Food Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2011 which states that…………
Every advertisement for and/or a package of food containing added Monosodium Glutamate shall carry the following declaration, namely-
|This package of (name of the food contains added)………… MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR INFANTS BELOW -12 MONTHS
The FSSAI further reiterates that it wishes to prevent harassment or prosecution of Food Business Operators (FBO) but at the same time it wishes to facilitate customers so that they make informed choices in selecting what foods to eat. Therefore, the prosecution will be launched against an FBO only when the label claim says “No MSG” or “No added MSG” but MSG is actually found in the questioned food product.
In order to prevent uncalled for harassment, the FSSAI has also advised Food Safety Commissioners against launching any specific enforcement or prosecution on manufacturers of noodles and pasta on account of the presence of MSG/ Glutamic Acid. Food Safety Commissioners may do so only if it is ascertained by the Food Safety Department that Monosodium Glutamate flavor enhancer (INS 621) was
- deliberately added during the course of manufacturing
- and that too without the food product having the required declaration on the label
About Monosodium Glutamate flavoring
When monosodium glutamate is added as a flavor enhancer it works like naturally occurring glutamate. Adding MSG as a flavor enhancer produces another dimension of taste which is called “umami,” and is often described as having a meaty taste. In many parts of the world, monosodium glutamate is added to prepared and processed foods such as frozen foods, spice mixes, canned and dry soups, salad dressings and meat or fish-based products. In some countries, it is also used as a table seasoning. However, it is best known for its use in Chinese cuisine and other Asian cooking as it is said to enhance the natural flavor of foods. Monosodium Glutamate was earlier extracted from protein-rich seaweeds but now it is artificially made through the industrial fermentation process.