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July 26, 2011

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Noodle chain pulls calcium claims

AJISEN Ramen, a popular Japanese fast-food noodle chain, yesterday withdrew its ads in its restaurant and on its website promoting "calcium content" after a food science institute said last week that the information is false.

The company continued to insist on its website that its noodle soup contained rich collagen protein, while admitting that the soup was actually made from a liquid concentrate obtained by boiling pork bones, rather than freshly cooked in the kitchen.

The company had always claimed that a bowl of its noodle soup contained 1,600 milligrams of calcium, four times that in milk and 10 times that in most meat dishes.

A nutrition evaluation report issued by the Institute of Food Science and Nutrition Engineering of China Agricultural University, however, found that the calcium content was 485 milligrams per 100 grams of concentrate, which means that a bowl of Ajisen noodle soup contained only about 48.5 milligrams of calcium, about 97 percent less than what the chain had been claiming.

"I found that all the promoting words relevant to calcium content on its menu were covered by white paper," said Barbara Li, who was a frequent customer of the chain.

"Maybe the company has this guilty conscience or is afraid of the fake promotion being found out," Li said.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau launched an investigation yesterday, going to the chain to obtain evidence. Bureau officials said the probe should last several days.

"If the company is confirmed to make fake promotion, we will fine them according to the country's law," said Zhang Yusong, an official with the bureau.

Under the law, companies making false claims can be fined of between 10,000 yuan (US$1,511) and 200,000 yuan.


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