A local consumer group asked the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to conduct a deeper probe on the detection of ethylene oxide traces in Lucky Me! Instant Noodles manufactured by Monde Nissin Philippines and immediately recall the products that were found contaminated.
In a statement, Makabayan Consumer Watch said the FDA should issue a transparent and objective report on the use of ethylene oxide as a preservative in the production of instant noodles.
“Until the FDA released a transparent and reliable technical report or explanation on the issue of ethylene oxide which is used as a preservative in Lucky Me! Instant Noodles, the Filipino public faces health risks, especially as instant noodles have become the favorite food of poor consumers,” Makabayan Consumer Watch said.
Food safety regulators in the European Union and Taiwan said Lucky Me! Instant Noodles and pancit canton produced in Thailand were found to contain traces of ethylene oxide.
Among the Lucky Me! flavors that were recalled in Europe were beef noodle soup, Pancit Canton original, Pancit Canton chili, Pancit Canton kalamansi, and Pancit Canton chilimansi.
“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. Therefore, exposure to this substance needs to be minimized,” the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said.
Makabayan Consumer Watch asked the FDA to order a product recall of the Lucky Me! Instant Noodles that were found to contain traces of ethylene oxide.
“We ask for a copy of the technical report on the laboratory testing conducted by the FDA. It is the only way we can be assured that the Lucky Me! Instant Noodles are safe for consumption,” the group said.
Makabayan Consumer Watch said that at present, there is no clear explanation from the FDA if it is already in the process of conducting any technical or laboratory test on the affected products.
In a statement, Monde Nissin confirmed that ethylene oxide is a commonly used treatment in spices and seeds to control microbial growth typical in agricultural products. These materials, when processed into seasoning and sauces, may still show traces of ethylene oxide, it said.
FDA officer-in-charge Oscar Gutierrez Jr. said the agency received reports on the ongoing recall of certain batches of Lucky Me! noodles in European countries and Taiwan.
“In order to ensure that public health is protected, the use of ethylene oxide for sterilization purposes in food is not allowed in the European Union. However, there can still be traces from the ingredients or raw materials. Hence, the EU set maximum residue levels at a very low level based on the type of the commodity,” it said.
“We shall provide updates on the result of the investigation for public information,” Gutierrez said.