Umami Symposium: MSG and Perception of the Umami Taste

May 2019 — The “Workshop on Monosodium Glutamate and Umami Taste Perception: Nutrition and Central Control Mechanisms” was held at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo, Brazil. This workshop is an achievement of the School of Food Engineering (FEA) which includes the Food and Drug Toxicology Group (GTAF), in association with the Center for Research on Obesity and Comorbidities (OCRC) of the Institute of Biology (IB). Umami Workshop at Unicamp

The workshop’s objectives were to: 1) strengthen knowledge among scientists about glutamate’s physiological and biochemical functions in the body, and 2) increase knowledge in the area of food safety, particularly in matters related to the safe use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) as a food additive and its role in umami taste (the fifth basic taste).

Read more about the Umami-MSG Workshop at UNICAMP.

World Umami Forum Honors 110th Anniversary of Umami’s Discovery

Umami, in celebration of the 110th year since its discovery, was the focus of the World Umami Forum, which took place in New York City, September 20-21, 2018. 

World Umami Forum

The research on umami started as early as the 1900s, with Dr. Kikunae Ikeda finding the substance responsible for the taste in the broth of kelp (kombu in Japanese). With extraordinary insight, Dr. Ikeda recognized that this taste was common to the taste of the tomatoes and asparagus he ate during his stay in Germany. Also, he wanted to contribute to society by improving the nutrition of the Japanese people. In an exceptional purification process, he found that the component responsible for the taste of the soup from kelp was glutamate and called this new taste “umami,” which is also known in English as savory taste. With his remarkable skills in chemistry, he succeeded in transforming glutamate from kelp into an easy-to-use seasoning that was rich in umami taste. In 1908, he was granted a patent for the method to manufacture the umami seasoning, which soon became popularly known as MSG (monosodium glutamate).

In commemoration of this significant achievement, the inaugural World Umami Forum gathered food science experts, renowned researchers, journalists, registered dietitians, and culinary professionals from all over the world to share many aspects about umami taste. Participants were familiar with umami but achieved a better understanding and appreciation of the taste and its essential role in cuisine.

Read more about the World Umami Forum.

Umami Symposium: Benefits Research – Appetite Control and Sodium Reduction Benefits – Presented at 7th Asian Congress of Dietetics

 Asian Congress of Dietetics Umami Symposium

July 2018 — Umami, known as the savory taste, was discovered more than a century ago, yet recent research continues to document the many benefits of umami. Currently underway is a year-long recognition of umami’s 110th anniversary since its extraordinary discovery in 1908.

At one event this year, participants at the Asian Congress of Dietetics in Hong Kong discussed this latest umami research. The unique benefits of umami, including umami’s dietary significance, were addressed during an Asian Congress of Dietetics (ACD) lunch symposium on Friday, July 6. The umami symposium tied in directly to the theme of the 7th ACD, which was “The Rise of Nutrition and Dietetics in Asia.”

The principal speaker at the lunch symposium was Dr. Snigdha Misra, who is chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at International Medical University, in Malaysia. Dr. Snigdha presented her latest research demonstrating that umami improves the palatability of foods and stimulates appetite regulation, including the role of umami in supporting nutrition among the elderly. Dr. Snigdha also discussed how foods with umami seasonings are effective in reducing sodium intake and can help maintain normal blood pressure, especially among the elderly.

Read more about the 7th Asian Congress of Dietetics Symposium.

Anniversary of Umami Symposium held at ACS Annual Meeting

March 2018 — One hundred ten years after its discovery, umami celebrated its birthday in New Orleans during the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, on March 18, 2018. Rather than cake and ice cream, the “110th Anniversary of Umami Symposium: Past, Present, Future” featured a range of renowned scientists and historians from the U.S. and Japan who shared both factual and cultural commentary about umami, the 5th taste. Misconceptions about monosodium glutamate (MSG), which some have called “the purest form of umami,” also were addressed.

Read more about the 110th Anniversary of Umami Symposium.

Benefits of Umami in Foods Demonstrated by Chef Chris Koetke

October 2017 — The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently celebrated its 100th anniversary Food Nutrition Conference and Exhibition (FNCE) in Chicago, Illinois. Several members of the International Glutamate Information Service were there attending sessions and participating in discussions with dietitians and food science professionals.

Chef Christopher Koetke was one of the distinguished chefs conducting cooking demonstrations and food sampling. Chef Koetke’s presentation focused on building flavor in prepared foods, and specifically the unique benefits of umami in foods.

Read what Chef Koetke says about building a dish with umami.

Umami Symposium: “Scientific Approach for Authentic Egyptian Foods and Ingredients”

October 12 2016 — This symposium was held in Egypt at Cairo University (Food Science Department, Faculty of Agriculture). It is the first symposium on Umami and Glutamate to be held in Egypt. 

Umami Symposium 

The umami symposium covered basic information about umami, including its history, science and food applications, as well as the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) as the purest form of umami. During the seminar, more than 250 attendees experienced the powerful effect of umami seasoning (MSG) to improve the deliciousness of low salt vegetable soup.

Presenting: Dr. Kumiko Ninomiya of the Umami Information Center; Professor Dr. Shahinaz Ahmed Helmy Mohamed Abdou, Chair of the Food Science Department at Cairo University; Professor Dr. Toshihide Nishimura of Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University; and Dr. Masanori Komura of the International Glutamate Technical Committee and Ajinomoto Co., Inc.

Umami, which has been documented as the fifth basic taste, is not well understood in Egypt. Participants learned about the hidden benefits of umami in Egyptian dishes and specifically learned how MSG can impart the delicious taste in many foods.

Presentation points:

  • Dr. Ninomiya introduced umami as being originally discovered in Japan more than a century ago, and now is recognized in many parts of the world as a basic taste. The first affordable umami seasoning was developed as the sodium salt of glutamic acid (MSG) by the Japanese food company, Ajinomoto Co., Inc.
  • Dr. Shahinaz addressed major umami substances, such as glutamate which is widely present in many Egyptian foods (for example, tomatoes and various kinds of beans).
  • Dr. Nishimura discussed the importance of taste and flavor combinations for food deliciousness. The characteristics of umami explain why the umami taste makes food so delicious, and umami seasoning (MSG) fortifies the original taste of vegetables, meat and fish. Also, the added health benefit of umami in helping to reduce sodium was discussed. Dr. Nishimura explained how MSG improves the palatability of food with low salt food content.
  • Dr. Komura introduced the safety of the affordable umami taste seasoning, MSG, and its acceptance as being completely confirmed by various leading authorities (FDA, EFSA, JECFA, etc.). Dr. Komura detailed how MSG’s safety has been repeatedly confirmed by world experts, based on numerous scientific studies as well as its long history of safe use.

Tasting session:

Participants tasted a low salt vegetable soup (containing 0.3% NaCl) to evaluate the change in taste quality and acceptance when umami seasoning (MSG) was added to the soup. The soup with MSG added was widely accepted as being the most desirable because of improved taste:

Which Soup do you Like?

Tasting Summary

Sample Size: 129 People
Male: 76
Female: 53

soup with MSG

Read about more past events in the Events Archive.