The Malaysian Health Ministry has issued a voluntary recall for two instant noodles products. ‘Ah Lai White Curry Noodles’ and ‘Indomie: Special Chicken Flavour’ noodles from Indonesia was found to contain ethylene oxide. The Taiwanese Health Department has also found ethylene oxide in the Indomie product. It has demanded a full recall.
This chemical compound is carcinogenic and used for killing pests such as insects. It is also an active ingredient in detergents but is not allowed to be used on surfaces in contact with food.
Medical Perspective: The Dangers of Ethylene Oxide
Ethylene oxide has been associated with lymphoma and leukaemia, as cited by Taipei’s Department of Health. The compound’s presence in food products could pose significant health risks to consumers, which has prompted the recall.
The recall affects batches of ‘Ah Lai White Curry Noodles’ that expire on August 25, and ‘Indomie: Special Chicken Flavour’ noodles produced in Indonesia. The Health Ministry will conduct tests on new batches of instant noodles at all entry points as a preventive measure.
Continuous food safety monitoring has led to the discovery of ethylene oxide in 11 samples from ‘Sedaap Noodle’ products since 2022. Actions taken include compounds, court actions, and product recalls from the market.
Consumer Awareness and Product Availability
The Health Ministry urges consumers not to consume or purchase the affected products. Retailers in the Klang Valley confirmed that the recalled products were not available on their shelves. Mydin, a local hypermarket chain, confirmed that they do not sell both instant noodle products. Likewise, Jaya Grocer and 99 Speedmart also reported not carrying the affected brands.
The Taipei Health Department detected ethylene oxide in the seasoning packets of Indomie’s ‘Ayam Spesial’ (special chicken) variant following a random inspection of various instant noodle brands. Consequently, Taiwan authorities have ordered businesses to remove the products from their shelves immediately, imposing fines for non-compliance. Furthermore, the department stated that importers of the products will face fines ranging from NT$60,000 (US$1957.87) to NT$200 million.
Franciscus Welirang, director of Indomie producer PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, assured that exported Indomie products complied with both the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency [BPOM] and the health standards of importing countries. The company plans to issue a clarification on the matter.
In the case of Malaysia’s Ah Lai White Curry instant noodles, the Malaysia Health Ministry ordered a recall of two batches of the product after the presence of ethylene oxide was discovered. The manufacturer had complied with local health standards, but the recall was made to ensure food safety.
The Malaysia Health Ministry urges consumers not to purchase or consume the affected products.
The findings by Taiwanese authorities have prompted the recall of the two batches of instant noodles in question. The Health Ministry there will conduct tests on new batches of instant noodles at all entry points to ensure consumer safety.
Update: The Indonesia Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has stated that the Indomie is safe for consumption. It stated the Ethylene oxide present is at a level that is acceptable to their standard applied.