Envoy: Lift ban on six Korean noodles

Posted on November 11, 2012


“LIFT the Philippine ban of Nongshim noodles from South Korea.”

This is the call of Korean Ambassador Hyuk Lee to the Philippine government, who assured that the South Korean noodles were safe to eat.

“You do not have to worry about these noodles. There is no problem in eating them. You can eat them anytime. There is no problem at all,” he said during a press conference at the Cebu Country Club in Banilad, Cebu City yesterday.

Hyuk, who took over as South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines on Sept. 6, was in Cebu to introduce himself to the Korean community here and the Cebu media.

His call came after the Korean Embassy in Manila issued a statement on Thursday calling for the immediate lifting of the ban on the noodles.

According to the embassy, the Korea Food and Drug Administration asked the Nongshim Co. Ltd. earlier to recall the six noodle brands after it received reports of the presence of benzopyrene, a cancer-causing chemical, in samples of the product.

Hyuk said the results of a Korean food agency and a Taiwanese group on the six brands of noodles showed that they weren’t harmful to eat.

According to the embassy, the Korea Food and Drug Administration had “requested Nongshim Co. Ltd. to recall the six noodle brands immediately after it learned of the news that benzopyrene was detected recently” in samples of the product.

“But the KFDA conducted tests and issued a certificate, dated Nov. 7, 2012, saying the level of benzopyrene found in the Nongshim noodle powder—which ranged from 0.4 to 1.6 ppb—was extremely low and has no harmful effects on the human body,” it said.

“Furthermore, several foreign countries, except the Philippines and Thailand, have lifted their respective bans on the six Nongshim noodle brands. Taipei authorities have also conducted its own tests, concluding that the noodles are indeed not harmful to consumers,” said the embassy.

The banned noodles are Nongshim Neoguri (Hot), Nongshim Neugori (Mild Hot), Nongshim Neoguri (Multi Hot), Nongshim Big Bowl Shrimp, Nongshim Saengsaeng Udon Bowl, and Nongshim Saengsaeng Udon. They were earlier recalled by the Food and Drug Administration in Korea (KFDA).

Philippine Health Secretary Enrique Ona, on Wednesday, however, said that the DOH was conductings tests on the samples of the six affected noodle brands.

Ona said that a temporary ban on the importation of the six brands would be implemented until such time that the tests would prove that the levels would be within acceptable limits and safe for consumption.

The DOH was coordinating with the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Trade and Industry to resolve the banning issue.

The government also recalled 13 boxes and 124 pieces of the noodle brands, said Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Philippine Food and Drug Administration director.

Hartigan-Go said on Wednesday that the recall was done as a precautionary measure.

He also said that the levels of benzopyrene found on the noodles would have a bearing on the lifting of the ban. /Reporter Ador Vincent S. Mayol with an Inquirer report

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