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“Cheese-fueled nightmares! Eggs and cholesterol! Chemophobia! Chinese Restaurant Syndrome! In recent years, food misinformation is responsible for some wild (and in some cases dangerous) misperceptions in the U.S.” — Food Infodemic Report.

food misinformation about eggsSo, The Ajinomoto Group recently examined the issue to understand the impact that this “infodemic” is having across communities.

The first-ever Food Infodemic Report by The Ajinomoto Group was recently released in response to the growth of food misinformation in the United States. This research is based on data collected in a nationwide survey (in partnership with YouGov) of more than 3,000 Americans. A few key findings are:

  • The basic function of eating has become a complex issue in the U.S. 2 in 5 respondents (43%) have never felt more uncertain about their food choices, and over half don’t really know who to believe when it comes to proper nutrition (55%).
  • Without trusted, evidence-based sources, people are adopting unscientific eating habits that can be unsafe.​ 71% of respondents admit to adopting food beliefs and behaviors that aren’t grounded in science, and over 1 in 10 people in the U.S. (14%) think cheese gives nightmares. Even as most respondents admit they’ve likely fallen victim to food misinformation (55%), they’re more likely to put garlic up their nose (30%) than regularly check if a social influencer is qualified (25%).
  • Adopting and perpetuating unscientific food beliefs can also have a tremendous impact on individuals and on communities, especially communities of color. 54% have seen misinformation online attacking a beloved food from their culture or heritage, nearly twice as likely as White respondents. Nearly half of respondents from communities of color (52% Asian, 46% Black, 46% Hispanic vs. 33% White) have personally been (or seen others) ridiculed because of food from their culture or heritage.
  • MSG continues to be misunderstood by some. 26% of respondents avoid restaurants that use MSG with 20% of respondents avoiding Chinese foods entirely due to MSG concerns. 29% of Asian respondents have experienced stigma from Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

impact of food misinformation“As a leading manufacturer of MSG, we understand the ramifications of misinformation and the importance of facts and science in setting the record straight,” said Tia M. Rains, PhD, Vice President of Science, Innovation & Corporate Affairs at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition, North America, Inc. “The food infodemic isn’t unique to MSG, so we launched this study to better understand the sources, causes, and societal consequence of misinformation more broadly, with the goal of creating a more informed and inclusive food culture.”

Per The Ajinomoto Group:
“As the pioneer of MSG, The Ajinomoto Group knows the impact that misinformation can have. That inspired us to conduct a nationwide survey to better understand the causes and societal consequences of misinformation in the U.S. and identify actions to bring people back to food as a source of joy, exploration, and cultural connection. The findings from the study have resulted in The Food Infodemic Report.” Read and download the full report.