NIGERIA – The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has launched an investigation into a popular brand of instant noodles over concerns about the presence of a substance linked to increased cancer risks.
According to All Africa, the move follows a recall of “special chicken flavor” noodle brands in Malaysia and Taiwan after Ethylene oxide was detected in some samples, raising safety concerns about the food globally.
The regulatory agency said it was testing Indomie noodles for the presence of the compound and would extend the investigation to other brands of instant noodles in the Nigerian market.
Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC intimated that ethylene oxide is a compound associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Therefore, the management of NAFDAC has said that it is expanding its test for the presence of the killer seasoning, ethylene oxide, to other brands of instant noodles offered for sale to Nigerians.
According to data from the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is currently among the largest consumers of instant noodles with 1.92 million servings as of May 2020.
The country also ranked 11th in the global demand for noodles ranking, with Indomie instant noodles being the most consumed brand in Nigeria.
As a caution, earlier this week, the regulatory agency had said it has commenced random sampling of Indomie noodles (including the seasoning) from the production facilities, while Post Marketing Surveillance Directorate is carrying out tests on samples from the markets.
In addition, the agency said that the Ports Inspection Directorate (PID) is also on heightened alert to guard against the importation of the implicated product into Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the management of Dufil Prima Foods Plc, makers of Indomie Noodles in Nigeria, has said its products are 100 percent locally produced in the country and are safe for consumption.
Mrs. Adeyeye said the products flagged by both Taiwan and Malaysian health authorities are not registered in Nigeria and so have nothing to do with the country. She, however, noted that the investigations being conducted are simply being cautious.
Nigeria’s NAFDAC has made further clarifications on the controversies surrounding the discovery of cancer-causing substances in the chicken flavor of Indomie noodles by health authorities in Malaysia and Taiwan.
However, the agency has maintained that the implicated brand was not registered for sale in Nigeria, noting that the port authorities were on alert not to allow its importation.
Last year, Indomie Egypt pulled some of its products from Egyptian markets following an order from the Egyptian National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) which labelled Indomie’s chicken and vegetable flavored instant noodles, as well as instant noodles with chili packs as unsafe for human consumption.
Food safety tests conducted by the Egyptian agency found that Indomie’s chili packets and the chicken and vegetable flavor packets contained aflatoxins and pesticide residues in quantities that exceeded safe limits.
The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Competition Commission (CCA) then raised an alarm that similar products had been imported and marketed in the other Member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa which includes Kenya.
This led to the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority banning imports of Kenyan-made chicken flavoured Indomie brand.
However, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) cleared the air saying that the products in Kenya are in no way linked to the ones recalled in Egypt. Bernard Njiraini, the KEBS Managing Director clarified that the noodles consumed locally were not imported but manufactured locally.