INS 635 – The Secret Ingredient Behind Most Packaged Food

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What is INS 635?

If you are a die-hard fan of Maggi noodles and can’t do without it on any given day, chances are you are addicted to a food additive called INS 635 without being aware of it.

It’s a known fact that most of us are attracted to food items that have desirable taste, appearance, and texture. And this is why most food items advertised across all commercial platforms tend to look so good! One of the main components that keep us hooked on these products is the food additives used in them. 

So what is a food additive?

Any substance that is used to enhance the flavour, appearance, and texture, or extends its shelf-life is called a food additive. This includes preservatives, colorings, sweeteners, and emulsifiers. They can be made naturally or synthetically, as per requirement. Food additives are usually regulated by government agencies in their respective jurisdictions to ensure they are safe for consumption. 

INS 635 is also known as Sodium 5-ribonucleotides, it is a mixture of disodium inosinate (IMP) and disodium guanylate (GMP). It is also used in combination with monosodium glutamate (MSG) to enhance the savoury taste, also known as umami among food connoisseurs across the globe. International regulatory bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and US Food and Drug Administration declare this food additive safe. 

What is INS 635 Used For?

INS 635 food additive

The uses of INS 635 are mainly focused on the preparation of food items and extending their shelf life. Let’s look at some of its applications in the food industry:

  • It is used on meat products to improve their savoury taste.
  • It is used by almost all commercial packaged food manufacturers to enhance the flavour of the snacks such as chips, noodles, biscuits and other food items.
  • It also finds application in enhancing the flavour of soups and broths whether it’s a restaurant or packaged product.
  • It is also used on frozen food items to keep the flavour intact while it is stored at low temperatures.
  • It is the key ingredient in any restaurant menu; particularly the ones that serve Asian or Chinese food.

Last but not least; Maggi noodles and KFC chickens are probably one of the largest users of this food additive given their popularity among Indian consumers. 

To be fair, we are only speaking out loud and not holding this against anyone!  

How Is INS 635 Produced?

This food additive is made by combining disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. The first component is usually made by fermenting carbohydrate sources such as tapioca or rice with a specific strain of bacteria called brevibacterium or corynebacterium. The latter part is typically made by fermenting fish or mushrooms with a strain of bacteria. These two resulting components are combined in a specific ratio to make INS 635. 

Once the fermentation is completed, the resulting product is dried and ground into fine powder. Then, the final product is purified and inspected for quality. The product also needs to meet various health regulations to ensure they are safe before being sold to consumers. This particular food additive may not be suitable for those who abide by a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, especially abroad India. In India, considering different religious beliefs, they are usually of vegetarian. So, yes, you can eat your Maggi without worrying about it being non-veg.

Is It Safe?

In simple words, a resounding yes! To define the parameters of safe; it is not toxic, carcinogenic, or genotoxic. So, you can very well indulge in your favourite dish with a generous serving of INS 635 in it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also established a healthy intake of 0-3 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. 

That being said, INS 635 is a part of various junk food like Maggi and KFC. While they may be considered “safe”, they aren’t exactly good for your health.

Side Effects

As mentioned earlier in the article, this food additive has been cleared by most major food regulatory bodies across the globe. Yet, it can have an adverse effect on those who are usually more sensitive to such products. Some of the common side effects are:

  • Asthmatic people should avoid this food additive.
  • People suffering from gout should also avoid it.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Headaches

Although cases of adverse allergic reactions are a rarity, it is always a possibility. However, consuming food items with such additives regularly may not be a good idea since they can adversely affect your health. Moderation is the way to go!


Food additives mostly come in the form of powder for ease of use and storage. Powder tends to absorb moisture and gets oxidized it if remains exposed to air. For this reason, it always needs to be stored in air-tight containers and kept away from direct sunlight. Use a dry spoon preferably to scoop it; this will minimize contact with moisture and keep it closed once it’s done. Although these products are known to have a shelf life of over 2 years given the fact that it’s used as a preservative, we strongly advise our users to use them in small batches and finish them within a year. 

Some interesting information on INS 635:

  • They are always used in combination with other food additives since its expensive.
  • This ingredient is the secret to Chinese cuisines ever-increasing popularity in India.
  • Its ingredients (fish, beef, pork, yam, corn, rice) can vary depending on the manufacturer. People with strong religious affiliations or strict dietary rules must check with the manufacturers for its components.
  • The taste it generates is what many call “umami”; a category of taste that can be described as a “pleasant savoury taste”.

Final Word

Unless you are living off the grid or consciously decided to stay away from packaged food, chances are you will be consuming various forms of food additives including the INS 635. There has been a lot of noise on the internet about the health issues associated with food additives. However, much of it has been debunked a hundred times over.

No, we are not trying to take sides. All we are doing is taking a practical and balanced approach so our readers can be well-informed before they go about the business of managing food additives in their diet. Moderation and keen observation is the key to it all!

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