The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it will investigate allegations of a cancer-causing chemical found in Indomie noodles.
Health officials in Malaysia and Taiwan said they had detected ethylene oxide, a compound, in Indomie’s “special chicken” flavour noodles.
Ethylene oxide is a colourless, odourless gas that is used to sterilise medical devices and spices and is said to be a cancer-causing chemical.
Both countries have since recalled the product.
In reaction, Indofood, makers of Indomie noodles, said the product was safe for consumption.
Taufik Wiraatmadja, a member of the board of directors at Indofoods, said the noodles received standard certifications and were produced in compliance with international food safety regulations.
Mojisola Adeyeye, NAFDAC director-general, said the agency would begin random sample tests of the noodles and other brands from May 2.
Speaking with TheCable on Monday, Adeyeye said the NAFDAC started investigating once it got wind of the recall of the products by Taiwan and Malaysia authorities.
“Tomorrow, May 2, 2023, NAFDAC’s food safety and applied nutrition directorate will randomly sample Indomie noodles (including the seasoning) from the production facilities while post marketing surveillance directorate (will) samples from the markets,” she said.
“The compound of interest is ethylene oxide, so the director, food lab services directorate has been engaged. He is working on the methodology for the analysis.”
The DG said the product is on the prohibition list of the federal government, adding that it is not registered by the agency and had been banned from importation to Nigeria years ago.
She said NAFDAC is working to ensure that the product is not being smuggled and that the feedback from the investigations would be communicated to the public.
“It should be noted that Indomie noodles have been banned from being imported into the country for many years. It is one of the foods on the government prohibition list. It is not allowed in Nigeria, and therefore not registered by NAFDAC,” the NAFDAC DG told TheCable.
“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.
That is what NAFDAC food safety and applied nutrition (FSAN) and post-marketing surveillance (PMS) are doing this week at the production facilities and in the market respectively. The public will be duly updated with the outcomes of the investigation.”
The World Instant Noodles Association (WINA) says 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, with Indomie instant noodles being the most consumed brand in Nigeria.