Health officials yesterday said they would wait for the release of official test results before deciding whether three brands of instant noodles produced by a South Korean company at the center of a health scare should be pulled from store shelves.
The noodles were reported to contain traces of benzopyrene, a known carcinogen. Seoul officials recalled two of the products, produced by the South Korean Nongshim Co, late last month.
New Taipei City (新北市)-based Shing Her Co said it had sent a dozen noodle products it imports from Nongshim for testing on Tuesday last week, and results showed the samples did not contain any benzopyrene.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that the New Taipei City Government’s health department also conducted tests on the products and until the results are released, it would not order the noodles to be pulled.
The DOH was responding to a report by TVBS a day earlier that the popular Shin Ramyun brand of noodles were found to contain 0.75 parts per billion (ppb) of benzopyrene. The importer said the 0.75ppb level was lower than the allowable amount set by the EU of 5ppb for most foods and 1ppb for baby foods, adding that the DOH has not set any limits for benzopyrene levels.
The DOH said it is mulling setting an allowable limit, adding that it may adopt the EU’s standard.
Two Nongshim-brand noodles — Neoguri seafood mild noodles and Neoguri seafood spicy noodles — were ordered to be taken off store shelves by the DOH on Oct. 25, hours after South Korea recalled six Nongshim products, including the two found to contain benzopyrene.
In June, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) conducted tests on 30 instant noodle products sold in South Korea and found that six Nongshim products contained benzopyrene, with the Neoguri type containing the highest level, 4.7ppb, the Yonhap news agency said.
The cancer-causing substance was found in the powdered seasonings of the noodle products, the KFDA said.
The KFDA said it had delayed announcing the test results and implementing a recall order because the levels of benzopyrene found in the noodle products were very low and not harmful, the South Korean agency reported.
However, the KFDA issued the recall order after its commissioner, Lee Hee-sung, was pressed on the matter during a legislative question-and-answer session on Oct. 24, the agency reported.