Taiwan bans sale of Indomie variant after discovery of carcinogen

Indomie is Indonesia's most popular instant noodle brand, with a survey showing that over 88 per cent of respondents consumed Indomie last year.

Yvette Tanamal

Yvette Tanamal

The Jakarta Post


A woman takes packs of instant noodles from a shelf at a convenience store in Jakarta.(tempo.co/Dinul Mubarok)

April 27, 2023

JAKARTA – The Taipei Health Department has detected carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, substances in at least one Indomie instant noodle variant from Indonesia, following a random inspection of various brands of instant noodles available in the city.

Ethylene oxide, the chemical linked to lymphoma and leukemia, was found in the seasoning packets of Indomie’s Ayam Spesial (special chicken) variant, the department said in a press release on Monday.

“The detection of ethylene oxide in the product did not comply with the Pesticide Residue Allowance Standard announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. […] Businesses within the jurisdiction have been ordered to immediately remove them from their shelves,” said the Monday release.

A fine between 60,000 yuan (US$1,953) and 200 million yuan will be imposed on operators or shops found to have defied the order to “remove the offending product from the shelves and destroy them”, the release added.

Franciscus Welirang, director of Indomie producer PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, told reporters on Tuesday that the Indomie products exported to foreign countries abided by both “the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency [BPOM] and the health standards of the importing countries”, adding that the company would soon issue a “clarification” on the matter.

In Taiwan, food industries are “self-managing” when it comes to following the standards set by the country’s Food Safety and Sanitation Management, as the Health Ministry periodically performs random checks on the products sold in the market.

Indomie is Indonesia’s most popular instant noodle brand, with the latest survey by Katadata Insight Center (KIC) showing that over 88 percent of respondents consumed Indomie last year.

It is also exported to 80 countries globally, with the highest demand found in Australia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, the United States, New Zealand and some African countries.

Other than Indomie, Malaysia’s Ah Lai White Curry instant noodles were also found to contain ethylene oxide in Taipei. Other than potentially causing cancer, the substance has been found to be linked to severe skin and eye irritation, as well as hereditary defects.

Following the findings by Taiwanese authorities, Malaysia’s Health Ministry ordered on Wednesday the recall of the two batches of the instant noodles in question, The Star reported. The ministry’s director-general of health Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said that while the manufacturer of Ah Lai White Curry Noodles had complied with local health standards, the recall order was made to ensure food safety.

The firm had previously sent samples to be tested by a laboratory, The Star reported.

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