The Umami Information Center (UIC) in collaboration with the main organizer, University Putra Malaysia (UPM) and sponsored by Ajinomoto Co. Inc, Japan and Ajinomoto (Malaysia) Berhad held the event to create an open discussion on the latest scientific findings of umami. The objective of this groundbreaking meeting was to highlight recent advances on umami sensing, physiological benefits of glutamate and health implications.
Starter of the Scientific Update
The scientific update took place at the Corus Hotel in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. It was attended by over 160 professionals from the fields of nutrition, food science and dietetics, as well as professors and students from similar fields.
The scientific update was officiated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rozita Rosli, Deputy Dean of the faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UPM. Dr. Rosli noted that the event gave Malaysians a good opportunity to learn about umami and an update of new information about glutamate. The event featured 3 special guest speakers who provided open discussions on the physiological aspects of umami and its revolutionary effects on science and society.
UMAMI: The Fifth Basic Taste
Before the presentation started, the message of umami was introduced to the audience through a video presentation entitled "The Fifth Taste", which featured interviews from famous chefs and food scientists around the world. The video explained the important role that umami plays in food, and how it can be exploited to make food more delicious.
The idea of umami was further enhanced and elaborated on by the first keynote speaker, UIC Director Ms. Kumiko Ninomiya. She discussed how scientist Professor Kikunae Ikeda first conceived the idea of "a fifth taste" in 1908, based on his insightful research and the subsequent discovery of glutamate in kombu (kelp). She also emphasized the fact of umami is a universal taste that is present in all cuisines throughout the world. During the presentation, the audience members were also given an opportunity to experience the taste of umami from different ingredients such as "Belacan" (a shrimp paste), "parmesan cheese", "konbu" and "tomato" under the guidance of the speaker.
Flavor Programming: Fetus, Infant, and Child
After the well grounded presentation of Ms. Kumiko Ninomiya on umami, Dr. Gary K. Beauchamp who is a biologist and neuroscientist and Director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center (Philadelphia, USA), provided an in-depth look at the sensory perception of flavor and how it affects food preferences. Furthermore, he explored the factors that determine human flavor preferences and aversions as well as better strategies that can be implemented to diagnose, treat and prevent nutrition-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. His lively and interesting presentation left a deep impression on the audience.
Glutamate Receptors in the Gut: Physiological Consequences
The last presenter, Dr. Ana San Gabriel from the Institute of Life Sciences of Ajinomoto, discussed the new findings and discoveries of umami receptors in the stomach. She conferred that glutamate enhance digestion of protein in the stomach through existing umami receptors in the stomach. She also discussed possible clinical applications of glutamate based upon its broad physiological activity including the induction of salivary secretion and the enhancement of the nutritional status in hospitalized elderly subjects.
Overall, the event received many positive comments and feedback from the audience. They appeared to find the presentations and discussed topics to be very informative, interesting and felt that it helped them to broaden their knowledge and understanding about umami and glutamate.
Event officiated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rozita Rosli, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at UPM
Over 160 professionals from the fields of nutrition, food science, dietetic, including lecturers & students from similar fields attended the event
The first keynote speaker, UIC Director Ms. Kumiko Ninomiya who discussed about "Umami: The Fifth Basic Taste"
Audiences experienced the taste of umami from different ingredients
The second keynote speaker, Geneticist, Biologist and Director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, Dr.Gary K. Beauchamp who presented the topic "Flavor Programming: Fetus, Infant, Child"
The last keynote speaker, Dr. Ana San Gabriel from the Institute of Life Sciences discussed the topic about "Glutamate Receptors in the Gut: Physiological Consequences"