THE National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) announced the ban on importation of Indomie’s ‘Special Chicken Flavour’ instant noodles to prevent the smuggling of the product into the country, according to the Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye.
Adeyeye disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday, May 2.
She said the Special Chicken Flavour noodles was flagged in the country years ago and NAFDAC did not register the product.
Adeyeye said the Agency is exercising extra caution to prevent unapproved importation of the product. She added that sampling of the product and other brands of instant noodles is ongoing.
“The product is on the government’s prohibition list,” she said.
“What we are doing is an extra caution to ensure that the product is not smuggled in, and if so, our post-marketing surveillance would detect it. We also want to be sure that the spices used for the Indomie and other noodles in Nigeria are tested.”
NAFDAC is set to commence clinical tests and random sampling of Indomie noodles and their seasoning from production facilities for the presence of ethylene oxide.
Adeyeye promised that once the tests are completed, the outcome of the sampling and analysis of the products would be available to the public.
She assured Nigerians of a thorough investigation of the products both at factory and market levels.
“Indomie instant noodles products and other brands of noodles registered by NAFDAC for sale in the Nigerian market are manufactured in Nigeria and are only granted NAFDAC registration status following a strict regulatory regime covering all aspects of good manufacturing practice,” she said.
The move to conduct clinical tests on noodles was influenced by the decision of Malaysia and Taiwan to recall the sale of the Indomie Special Chicken Flavour noodle.
The decision of the Asian countries raised some concerns about food safety in Nigeria and globally.
Regarding the development, Adeyeye said, “NAFDAC is aware of the ban on Indomie Instant Noodles’ Special Chicken Flavour’ by the Ministries of Health in Malaysia and Taiwan on account of the alleged presence of ethylene oxide, a compound associated with an increased risk of cancer.
“NAFDAC, as a responsible and responsive regulator, is taking swift actions to carry out random sampling and analysis of Indomie noodles (including the seasoning) for the presence of ethylene oxide, as well as extending the investigation to other brands of instant noodles offered for sale to Nigerians.”
Findings by Malaysia and Taiwan
Last week, health officials in Malaysia and Taiwan said they detected ethylene oxide in the “special chicken” flavour noodles.
Ethylene oxide is a colourless, odourless gas used to sterilize medical devices and spices. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the gas can contribute to increased cancer risk.
On Monday, April 24, the health department in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, disclosed that it found the substance in the instant noodle variant following a random inspection of various brands available in the city.
It said the detection of ethylene oxide in the product did not comply with standards.
“The Taipei City Health Bureau reminds the food industry that our country has not approved ethylene oxide as a pesticide, nor has it approved ethylene oxide gas for disinfection purposes.
“The industry is sure to implement autonomous management and confirm that the raw materials and products should comply with food safety and health management,” the department said in a statement.
Two days later, the Ministry of Health in Malaysia also said it examined 36 instant noodles from different brands and found that 11 samples contained ethylene oxide.
“The detection of ethylene oxide in the product did not comply with standards and businesses have been ordered to immediately remove them from their shelves,” the Health Director-General, Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan, said last Wednesday, April 26.