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November 15, 2013

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Watchdog says noodles are safe

Instant noodles on sale in Shanghai are safe to eat, officials from the Shanghai Food Safety Office said yesterday.

They issued the reassurance  in response to a report of heavy metal contamination in products sold in Taiwan.

Officials said previous checks had found no evidence of excessive heavy metals in the foodstuff on sale in local markets.

Their comments followed an investigation by the Taiwan-based “Business Today” magazine where noodles had been sent for checks at a food laboratory in Taipei.

The magazine bought several brands of instant noodle, including popular brands Master Kong and Uni-President, and said that most sauce bags in the products contained heavy metals.

Of the samples, Uni-President's Beef With Sauerkraut noodles were found to have the highest levels of bronze and lead, the magazine said. They contained 1.73 micrograms per kilogram of bronze and 0.222mg/kg of lead.

A South Korean spicy noodle was found to have the highest density of arsenic at 0.532mg/kg, the magazine found.

Taiwan doesn’t have a set standard for heavy metal content so it is not known whether these amounts would be considered excessive.

On the mainland, the limit of lead on dressing is 1.0mg/kg and for spicy dressing 3.0mg/kg. For oil and oil products, the lead limit is 0.1mg/kg. For arsenic, limits for oil and oil products are 0.1mg/kg and for dressing 0.5mg/kg. There is no standard for bronze.

Gu Zhenhua, deputy director at the Shanghai office, said regular checks for heavy metals included instant noodles and no abnormalities had been found so far.

Uni-President said yesterday that its Beef With Sauerkraut noodles, which are made on the mainland, met mainland standards.

Officials in Taiwan said they had taken note of the magazine’s findings and would be monitoring heavy metals in food with a view to introducing a standard next year.

Heavy metals exist widely in the environment and producers say products made from vegetables, fruit and oil would inevitably contain traces.



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