Nigeria’s food and drug regulator says it is investigating the popular Indomie brand of instant noodles following recalls in Malaysia and Taiwan where health authorities say they detected a potentially cancer-causing substance.
Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said in a statement Tuesday it was “taking swift actions” to analyze samples of the product, as well as its seasoning, and will also scrutinize “other brands of instant noodles offered for sale to Nigerians.”
Health officials in Malaysia and Taiwan last week recalled the noodles saying they had detected a compound called ethylene oxide in the “special chicken” flavor of the noodles.
The Nigerian regulator said Indomie is produced by a local manufacturer and that the special chicken” flavor noodles is not available for sale in the country.
“The public is … informed that the implicated Indomie instant noodle is not registered for sale in Nigeria. It is important to mention that noodles are on the Import Prohibition List of the Federal government of Nigeria and is therefore not permitted for importation to Nigeria,” NAFDAC Director General Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye wrote in the statement.
Indonesian food giant Indofoods has defended the safety of its products.
“We would like to emphasize that … our Indomie instant noodles are safe for consumption,” Taufik Wiraatmadja, a member of the board of directors at Indofoods, said in a statement last week.
“All instant noodles produced by (Indofood) in Indonesia are processed in compliance with the food safety standards from the Codex Standard for Instant Noodles and standards set by the Indonesian National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPOM),” the statement added.
Ethylene oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is used to sterilize medical devices and spices. The United States Environmental Protection Agency found in a report that the gas could contribute to increased cancer risk.
Indonesia’s food and drug monitoring agency also said last week the products available locally were “safe for consumption as it met its safety standards” — despite containing traces of ethylene oxide.
Nigeria is one of the largest instant noodle markets in the world and Indomie is the “market leader in the noodles industry in Nigeria,” according to the Indofoods, which owns the brand.
Indonesian food giant Indofoods says Indomie noodles is available in more than 100 countries across the world in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Indomie first launched instant noodles in 1972 with a chicken flavor but is now produced in many varieties.