INDONESIA/JAPAN: Ajinomoto reels from seasoning scandal
Japanese-owned PT Ajinamoto Indonesia announced plans to buy back about 3,000 tons of its Ajinomoto seasoning product worth Rp30bn (US$3.35m) after it was banned from sale in the country for religious reasons.
The Japanese company has acknowledged the use of an enzyme extracted from pork in the process of producing the seasoning product but have denied that the end-product contains pig meat, which Moslems are forbidden to consume. The enzyme was used only in the process of production, a company official said. Ajinomoto food taste enhancers contain "frocine" - an enzyme extracted from pork.
The Indonesian government ordered the monosodium glutamate-based seasoning to be withdrawn from stores after a religious group that certifies foods issued warnings about it. Withdrawal of the product from the market must be completed within three weeks from January 3.
Government agencies with the help of police have mounted a national operation to withdraw the product from all markets in the country. Indonesia has the biggest Moslem population in the world.
Ajinomoto share prices fell considerably on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Friday, following reports the Japanese firm's product in Indonesia being withdrawn from the market.
Police have detained eight Japanese nationals including company president, Mitsuo Harakawa and deputy head, Yasushi Oda, in connection with violating consumer protection laws.
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