Chinese food a rage in Kolkata despite containing harmful Ajinomoto salt

January 15th, 2008 - 10:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Soma Mitra
Kolkata, Jan.15 (ANI): Many Kolkatans have not been able to give up relishing Chinese cuisine despite the fact that many of its delicacies contain Ajinomoto, a Chinese salt that is used for flavour but widely known for its harmful affects on health.
Hundreds of office-goers and many local visitors in central Kolkata, where most of the offices, markets and other business establishments are located, can be found enjoying Chinese food at roadside stalls on weekdays.
According to the medical fraternity, the consumption of MSG or Ajinomoto stimulates secretion of pentagastrin acid in stomach that leads to ulcers. It can also lead to cancer.
“As for MSG, it has been found that it has got certain adverse reactions. It can be classified and affect any system and there maybe increase in heart rate, there maybe fall of blood pressure, sweating.. Because of that headache can increase, migranal headache and also, there maybe skin rashes,” said Dr. Jayanta Dasgupta, Head of Gastroenterology Department at S.S.K.M Hospital in Kolkata.
Be it chowmein and chilli chicken as a combination or simply the fried rice, are one of the most preferred lunch packs among the office-goers here.
Despite repeated warnings by concerned authorities, Kolkatans appear not much bothered whether their meal is Ajinomoto-free and safe for consumption or not.
“We, people from Calcutta, are fond of street food, so obviously, we like it,” said Ayan Mukherjee, a regular of roadside Chinese food.
In 1908, MSG or what is known as Ajinomoto was first researched upon by a Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda at the Tokyo Imperial University. He identified brown crystals left behind after the evaporation of a large amount of Kombu broth as glutamic acid (mono sodium glutamate)
Although countries like China and Japan have banned the use of Ajinomoto in eatables, the chemical is still being indiscriminately used in almost all fast food preparations available in Kolkata, right from Chanachur to soups, chips and wafers.
Chinese food vendors on Camac Street admit using Ajinomoto but pretend using it minimally.
“We use Ajinomoto powder. But it is only 50 grams and that too for two days. If we don’t use it, customers do not relish the food, as otherwise it does not give them a proper taste. In fact, there are certain customers who insist on Ajinomoto in their food,” said Samhser Akhtar, one of the Chinese food vendors.
In a report published in 2004, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern over the usage of Ajinomoto (mono sodium glutamate) in Chinese Food and advised the consumers to avoid it.
Since Ajinomoto is being rampantly used as an additive by caterers of Chinese food in Kolkata, the report on observations by the WHO was sent to all concerned Government Departments with a note to institute remedial measures.
In fact, since 1970s, usage of Ajinomoto had become controversial, evident being the complications in the health of persons who had regularly consumed food with it. Implementing health safety standards had become a tough proposition, particularly, among the road side restaurants and makeshift food stalls. (ANI)

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