Filipino noodle brand in hot water after EU recall over alleged pesticide content

  • Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Malta, Croatia, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Netherlands have all separately initiated a recall of items from the Lucky Me! product line of Monde Nissin, a global food company based in the Philippines.
  • The recall came after food safety authorities of the EU members were notified that the products contain traces of ethylene oxide, a harmful substance often used to manufacture pesticides and disinfectants.
  • The products that were recalled include Lucky Me!'s Beef Mami Instant Noodle Soup and Instant Pancit Canton Noodles Hot Chili Flavor.
  • In response to the controversy, Monde Nissin issued a statement on Thursday stating that ethylene oxide is not added to their products.
  • The company further clarified that ethylene oxide is a “commonly used treatment in spices and seeds to control microbial growth typical in agricultural products” which may still show traces “when processed into seasoning and sauces.”
  • The Philippine FDA released an advisory on Thursday stating that they are conducting an investigation on the matter.

At least 10 European Union (EU) countries have issued health safety warnings against the consumption of a popular Filipino instant noodles brand due to “high levels of ethylene oxide.”

The governments of Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Croatia, Greenland, Malta, the Faroe Islands and the Netherlands have all separately initiated a recall of items from the Lucky Me! product line of Monde Nissin, a global food company based in the Philippines. 

The recall, which includes several products such as Lucky Me!’s Beef Mami Instant Noodle Soup and Instant Pancit Canton Noodles Hot Chili Flavor, came after food safety authorities of the EU members were notified that the products produced in Thailand contain traces of the harmful substance often used to manufacture pesticides and disinfectants. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland noted that the ethylene oxide used for pesticides is “not authorised for use in foods sold in the EU.”

“Although the consumption of the contaminated product does not pose an acute risk to health, there may be health issues if there is continued consumption of ethylene oxide over a long period of time,” the statutory body said.

“Therefore, exposure to this substance needs to be minimized. Point-of-sale recall notices will be displayed in stores supplied with the implicated batch,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Information of Malta issued a press release on Wednesday, saying, “In accordance with the Food Safety Act and Regulation (EC) No. 178 of 2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, the Environmental Health Directorate within the Superintendence of Public Health wishes to inform the public that following information received through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed said products must not be consumed due to high levels of Ethylene oxide (a pesticide).”

An earlier report by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment that analyzed data based on inhaled air with ethylene oxide noted that the substance is harmful because it is both mutagenic and carcinogenic. 

In response to the controversy, Monde Nissin issued a statement on Thursday stating that ethylene oxide is not added to their products. They also mentioned that they comply with both local and U.S. food safety standards for the substance.

“Rest assured that all Lucky Me! products are Philippine FDA (Food and Drug Administration) registered and comply with local food safety standards and even the U.S. FDA standards for ethylene oxide,” the company said. 

The company further clarified that ethylene oxide is a “commonly used treatment in spices and seeds to control microbial growth typical in agricultural products” which may still show traces “when processed into seasoning and sauces.”

The Philippine FDA released an advisory on Thursday stating that they are conducting an investigation on the matter. 

Featured Image via Lucky Me!

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