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July 25, 2011

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Noodle chain ingredients and claims to be tested

WATCHDOGS are to investigate claims that a popular Japanese noodle fast-food chain uses instant powder to make its soup bases and exaggerates the nutritional value of its food.
The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said it will examine the products used by Ajisen Ramen following allegations in local media.
It was claimed Ajisen, which is famous for its Japanese-style casual cuisine, uses cheap powders for the soup base for its noodles, despite boasting that its stock is "a broth of pork bones simmered to perfection."
However, Hao Xiong, an official from Ajisen Ramen China, denied the chain uses soup powder.
He said the base was made from a liquid concentrate produced by a Japanese firm.
And this concentrate was obtained by boiling pork bones for a long time, Hao told reporters.
Ajisen claims on its website that its soup base - hailed as "The King of White Soup" - contains nutrients that replenish calcium loss in the human body.
The chain's menus boast the calcium content in a bowl of noodle soup is 1,600 milligrams - four times the calcium content in milk and 10 times that in ordinary meat dishes.
But a nutrition evaluation report by the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition Engineering of China Agricultural University found the calcium content was 485 milligrams per 100 grams of concentrate.
Local media calculated that a bowl of Ajisen noodle soup contains only 48.5 milligrams of calcium.
At an Ajisen outlet on Dongjiangwan Road in Hongkou District, a customer told a Shanghai Daily reporter that as she always makes soup at home, she suspected Ajisen's was not freshly made.
Some diners said they will still visit the eatery regardless of whether the soup stock is a powder or concentrate.
"For fast food, good taste is more important. And I don't believe it contains so much nutrition anyway," said Wang Chen, a white-collar worker.
But fellow customer Su Man, a senior university student, said in future she will not eat at the restaurant if there's a better option.
"Students have to watch their money, and Ajisen is more expensive than other chains," Su said.
"But I don't think it's worth it, and I may as well eat instant noodles," she added.
Hao said the company will respond again after investigating the claims.


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