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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 14:12 GMT
Indonesian outcry over 'pork-tainted MSG'
msg
MSG is widely used in Indonesian cooking
By Richard Galpin in Jakarta

The Indonesian Government has ordered one of the country's best-known food companies to withdraw all its stocks of the popular flavouring monosodium glutamate (MSG) after it was found to have been manufactured using pork products.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and eating any form of pork is forbidden under the Islamic faith.

pigs
Pork extract was used to grow bacteria to produce enzymes needed for MSG
The Japanese company, Ajinomoto, has been ordered by the Department of Health to withdraw all its stocks within the next three weeks.

It is estimated this could amount to 10 tonnes of MSG, which is widely used in households and restaurants across Indonesia.

The orders came after one of the main Islamic institutions found evidence that recent batches of the flavouring had been manufactured using a pork extract.

Although this was not found in the final product, the fact it was used at all was enough for the flavouring to be declared "haram" or forbidden by Islamic scholars.

Supermarkets

When contacted by the BBC, a company spokesman refused to comment, saying the matter was still being discussed.

At least two of the biggest supermarket chains in Indonesia have already said they have begun withdrawing all their supplies of MSG manufactured by Ajinomoto.

Whilst extremely embarrassing for this particular firm, it is not the first time there has been a scandal like this in Indonesia.

In recent decades, several other big food manufacturers have also been found to have used pork in their products, causing a similar outcry.

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