Viral campaign has generated over 27 million views on TikTok, sparking national conversation about baseless MSG bans.
ITASCA, Ill., Aug. 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Just two weeks after the movement to #CancelPizza swept the internet, The Ajinomoto Group, first and leading U.S. supplier of monosodium glutamate (MSG), today revealed that it launched the satirical campaign as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to tackle misinformation and dispel stigma around the ingredient. The initiative, which has achieved more than 27M views on TikTok, leverages humor to spotlight the irony of condemning MSG seasoning, while embracing other foods with inherently present MSG, like quintessential pizza ingredients.
“What makes pizza so delicious is the inherent presence of MSG in many of its most beloved toppings,” said Tia M. Rains, PhD, Vice President of Science, Innovation & Corporate Affairs at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition, North America. “As many consumers already know, there are decades of scientific evidence to support the safety of MSG, so we launched this campaign as a way to show that continuing to cancel MSG is as silly as calling to cancel pizza.”
At the center of this social media movement is a science-minded conspiracy theorist who points out the identical molecular composition between MSG in a shaker and the MSG found in pizza toppings. His videos and petition website (all of which subtly link to the Ajinomoto Group’s official KnowMSG website) are anchored by facts and real chemistry. The character eagerly explains the right science but comedically reaches the wrong conclusion: if people still want to cancel MSG, they should #CancelPizza too.
“We blended the allure of viral conspiracy-style comedy with real scientific explanations of MSG’s flavor benefits, aiming to demystify unwarranted bans. Our hope is that foodies and pizza lovers across America begin to question the lack of scientific foundation behind MSG stigmas and embrace it as the safe umami seasoning it truly is,” said Dr. Rains.
The Ajinomoto Group has already seen overwhelmingly positive social responses with 70% of comments defending pizza and by extension, MSG. #CancelPizza content was amplified by the Ajinomoto Group partners who posted response videos to set the record straight on MSG.
“Misunderstandings towards MSG come from outdated stigmas rooted in xenophobia against Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities, and not from science or food safety,” said Dr. Rains. “It’s time this umami flavor booster was savored and not shunned in any form.”
The origins of MSG stigma can be traced back to racist phrases like Chinese Restaurant Syndrome – which unscientifically correlated a slew of negative health symptoms with MSG in Chinese food – and resulted in more than 50 years of unnecessary fear surrounding MSG despite science continuously proving the ingredient is safe.
The Ajinomoto Group’s Past Campaigns and 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, Asian Americans and restaurants were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and misinformation. 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. In 2020, the company revealed the new “Know MSG” symbol to replace the outdated “No MSG” signs and to challenge assumptions about MSG. In June 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. Due to these efforts, more than 28 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 American 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: Ty Meza
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SOURCE Ajinomoto Co., Inc