Taiwan authorities announced the recall of Indomie instant noodles after a forbidden preservative, methyl p–hydroxybenzoate was found on its soy sauce.
Methyl p–hydroxybenzoate has been banned for use in food in Taiwan. If consumed excessively, it can cause vomiting. Furthermore, if it is taken for long periods for substantial amounts, it may cause metabolic acidosis – a condition due to too much acid. Methyl p–hydroxybenzoate allowed only in cosmetics in Taiwan.
Two leading supermarket chains, ParknShop and Wellcome, have stopped selling Indomie instant noodles and removed all Indomie products from the shelves of their supermarkets.
PT. Indofood Indomie as the manufacturer says that the noodle in questioned were not for Taiwan market. Indofood also stated that all noodles export to Taiwan have been in full compliance with the Taiwanese Department of Health and Security Bureau. Indofood say the noodle could have entered the Taiwanese market via unofficial suppliers.
Taufik Wiraatmadja, an Indofood director said in a press statement that the company was in compliance with the standards set by Taiwan’s food authority, including on the content of methyl p–hydroxybenzoate.
Its Hong Kong importer Fok Hing (HK) Trading said the noodles in Taiwan may have been brought in illegally. It representative said that the noodles it imported meet the food safety standards of Hong Kong and the World Health Organization, citing a June quality examination that did not find banned preservatives.
“The Indomie noodles are safe to eat and they entered the Hong Kong market via legal import channels,” it said. “The poisoned products found in Taiwan are probably being imported in illegal ways.”
Indomie instant noodle brand is known as one of the most favourite Indonesian local noodles with market share of 70% of all instant noodles in Indonesia. The figure was 90% before year 2000 but it has been steadily in declines following the introduction of “Mie Sedaap” by Wings Food in 2003 and others. There are currently more than 633 type of domestic and 466 imported noodles sold in Indonesian market.
The Indonesian trade ministry’s head of trade and economics for Taiwan, Bambang Mulyanto, said Indomie noodles pulled out by Taiwan’s food authority were intended for the Indonesian market.
According to standards set by the international body for food standards, Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), methyl p–hydroxybenzoate is safe to be consumed in a ratio of 1,000 milligrams per kilogram of a food product.
Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) chief Kustantinah said that each country has its own standard on the permitted level of use of methyl p–hydroxybenzoate in food. Canada and the US, for example, set a standard of 1,000 milligrams per kilogram, Brunei Darussalam 250 and Hong Kong 550, while Taiwan banned it completely or zero.
Kustantinah confirmed Monday that methyl p–hydroxybenzoate was found in Indomie’s soy sauce. However, it is still below the permitted level of 250 mg / kg as required by Indonesian Health Minister Regulation No 722 year 1988.
“The test results of soy sauce in instant noodle products in the last five years, have never found methyl p–hydroxybenzoate that exceed maximum allowable limits set by regulation,” said Kustantinah.