Vitamin scientist Tia Rains is dedicated to educating folks about the meals they eat. Her ardour for vitamin developed from being a toddler aggressive swimmer. Rains knew that vitamin might optimize her efficiency and he or she needed to grasp how.
For twenty years Rains has spent most of her skilled profession mastering the artwork of vitamin communications. A PhD in dietary sciences, her speciality is debunking misperceptions of maligned meals.
Rains began at Kraft Meals the place she discovered her true calling on the nexus of science and software. Then she lead vitamin analysis at a contract analysis group. From there she moved to the Egg Vitamin Middle the place she led a profitable effort towards the general public vilification of eggs.
Her newest endeavor is crusading to change the notion of monosodium glutamate, higher referred to as “MSG.” As Vice President of Buyer Engagement and Strategic Improvement at Ajinomoto Well being & Vitamin North America, Rains is a well being and vitamin advocate inside the meals and vitamin business. She is targeted on translating vitamin science into software to advance public well being.
“For me, one of the best half is deconstructing the basis of misinformation after which strategically mapping out a communication strategy that resonates with the viewers,” she says. “Information alone aren’t sufficient to ship a compelling meals and vitamin message. That is the “artwork” within the “artwork and science” of vitamin communications.”
In line with Rains and her staff, MSG is among the most baselessly demonized components in American historical past. So far, her efforts have contributed to greater than twelve million Individuals changing into extra optimistic towards the ingredient.
As Rains explains, the primary adverse affiliation with MSG was from a letter to the editor printed within the New England Journal of Drugs in 1968. It detailed the anecdotal signs a author skilled after consuming at a Chinese language restaurant. He described feeling generalized weak point, palpitations and numbness within the arms. He acknowledged that these signs might have been attributable to any variety of components within the meal, together with MSG.
As this time in historical past Asian meals had been nonetheless considerably new to shoppers in the US. And MSG was typically utilized in these meals. MSG turned a straightforward goal and the stigma took maintain. It has been perpetuated for many years by “no MSG” indicators on menus, restaurant home windows and product packaging.
“As a society, I hope we will get to a spot the place we’re leaning extra on science than private feeling, and even concern,” says Rains. “Each time I current info and get somebody to shift their notion, I’m reminded of why I do what I do.”
Jeryl Brunner: You and your staff have helped the notion of MSG. What makes a convincing advertising marketing campaign?
Tia Rains: Notion shifting campaigns, like what we’re doing for MSG, require a steadiness of logical and emotional communication. Logic provides folks confidence within the message, whereas emotion permits them to take possession of transferring it ahead into motion and actual change. Within the case of MSG, we’re trying to overturn a horrible and lengthy historical past of xenophobia and misinformation.
Brunner: So how did you apply that right here?
Rains: As a scientist, I’d wish to assume that individuals can be satisfied with info. However because it seems, info aren’t at all times sufficient. Information must packaged up within the bigger efforts that invite folks into the story to encourage change. For Ajinomoto, this has included charming campaigns like after we efficiently advocated for Merriam-Webster to redefine the problematic time period “Chinese language Restaurant Syndrome” or inspired folks to assist their native Asian eating places throughout the pandemic at a time when this group was dealing with hateful rhetoric and acts of discrimination, fueled by unfounded concern of Covid-19.
Brunner: So far as advertising, what are crucial expertise you’ve gotten?
Rains: As a scientist, I’m an analytical thinker by coaching and acknowledge the significance of analysis and information. I’m able to make science accessible and comprehensible for the common client. However I additionally assume critically in regards to the number of elements that inform a notion after which see how we will work with researchers and specialists to look at why they persist. Credible information is vital when creating profitable advertising campaigns.
I additionally see the worth in experiences and the affect they’ll have on somebody’s notion. Utilizing MSG for instance, it’s essential for folks to style what MSG does to meals and really expertise it. When somebody experiences the savory, scrumptious taste it provides to quinoa, roasted greens and different dishes, you see the lightbulb go on. They notice they’re experiencing pure umami.
Brunner: What would you want folks to find out about MSG?
Rains: A long time of analysis validates MSG’s security. And public well being organizations all over the world stand by its use within the meals provide. MSG not solely gives style advantages however may assist consumption of a nutritious diet. Because the purest type of umami, MSG enhances the style of many meals, and particularly, plant-based meals comparable to complete grains, greens, and different proteins. Plus, MSG accommodates simply one-third the quantity of sodium as desk salt and when used within the place of some salt, MSG can scale back the sodium in a dish by as much as 61%.
Brunner: What has Ajinomoto executed to fight MSG stigma and anti-Asian xenophobia?
Rains: As a worldwide firm, Ajinomoto is devoted to setting the document straight, standing towards xenophobia, and supporting the Asian American group which has been enormously impacted most just lately by the pandemic.
Our most up-to-date effort, the ‘Know MSG’ marketing campaign, works to set the document straight about MSG by overturning the ‘No MSG’ image that has perpetuated unfair misperceptions in regards to the ingredient for many years. As a part of this effort, we created our personal ‘Know MSG’ image that’s out there for open use. We additionally partnered with the Asian-owned model Omsom in our latest launch of a MSG-proud product that debuts the ‘Know MSG’ sticker on product packaging for the primary time ever.