Gov’t lifts Korean noodle ban

Posted on November 13, 2012

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TWO days after the Korean ambassador appealed to the Philippine government to lift the ban on six Korean instant noodle products, the Department of Health (DOH) issued a statement saying the food items were safe to eat.

The DOH, in official Facebook posts, said they are coordinating with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in lifting the ban starting yesterday.

It said laboratory tests by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed the level of benzopyrene, a carcinogenic or cancer-causing chemical present in six Nongshim noodle brands was below the allowed limit set by government or less than 5 ppb.

Most of the instant nodles covered by the earlier ban had an expiration year of 2012.

Korean Ambassador Hyuk Lee told Cebu journalists last Saturday that the Nongshim Korean noodle brands were safe to eat based on Korea’s food regulatory agency.

Even with the lifting of the ban, the DOH reminded consumers to check the ingredients and labels of foreign products before buying them.

“We caution our public that when purchasing foreign goods, particulary food products, to look for the regulated English translation of product name, the supplier and expiry dates,” the DOH advisory read.

In Cebu, DOH-7 spokesperson Suzette Limbaga said she hasn’t received the the new advisory yet but welcomes the lifting of the ban.

“It is good to know that the Korean noodles are safe. We have a lot of Korean sources here in Cebu,” Limbaga told Cebu Daily News.

She said most grocery stores in Cebu, especially in the malls, already pulled out the six banned Nongshim noodle stocks based on DOH monitoring last week.

Two grocery stores in Ayala Center voluntarily pulled out the banned stocks immediately after seeing the TV report warning consumers about Korean noodles last week.

Joefrey Camu, supermarket manager of Metro Gaisano in Ayala, said he immediately ordered the pullout even without an order from DOH and FDA or from their head office.

“For me you don’t have to delay the implementation of a recall. You should think of the customers. If it’s in the news I double check it and if it’s true then I have to order to pull out the products,” Camu told CDN. .

Though the company distributing Nongshim noodles issued a notice assuring vendors that their products are safe, Camu said he had to apologize for the pullout.

Other Nongshim products are still displayed on grocery shelves at the store’s international section but they were not included in the list of banned products.

Rustan’s supermarket also pulled out all Korean noodle brands when they heard about the report.

Jefferson Gacayan, in charge of the international food section in Rustan’s, said they pulled out the noodle items without waiting for the DOH-FDA advisory. /Marian Z. Codilla, Senior Reporter

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