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Thailand’s FDA Halts Sale of Korean Instant Noodles Over Pesticide Residue



Thailand's FDA Halts Sale of Korean Instant Noodles Over Pesticide Residue

Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has halted sales of a Korean instant noodles brand after Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) discovered pesticide residue in some packages.

The TFDA announced on January 17 that 0.075 milligrams of ethylene oxide, a substance commonly used in pesticide sterilization, was found in the seasoning powder of Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun Black Tofu and Kimchi cup noodles.

The FDA revealed that the same noodles were imported into Thailand by Prothai Co Ltd, a Korean food importer.

Nongshim imported cup noodles will expire on February 4 and 2,560 cup noodles will expire on May 8. Consumers should avoid eating cup noodles with the aforementioned expiry dates, according to the FDA.

The FDA has halted sales of all Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun Black Tofu and Kimchi cup noodles and collected samples for further chemical analysis.

The Department of Agriculture has approved a list of prohibited farming chemicals. Anyone who manufactures, sells, or imports food containing ethylene oxide residue faces a fine of up to 50,000 baht. The FDA welcomes consumer complaints about suspect food ingredients or substandard dietary products via its hotline, 1556, or its official LINE account, @FDAThai.

Instant Noodles in Thailand

In Thailand, instant noodles were once considered an economic indicator. They were two baht a packet in the early 1970s, quickly gaining a central place in the diets of millions of low-income Thais, whose purchasing habits provided economists with a window into the health of the economy.

The top three brands, Mama, Wai Wai, and Yum Yum, control nearly 90% of the Thai market and a sizable portion of the Asian export market.

Thailand was the third-largest exporter of processed instant noodles in 2019, trailing only China and South Korea.

Thailand is also one of the world’s largest consumers of instant noodles, with 3.6 billion servings by the end of 2021, according to the World Instant Noodles Association. China, Indonesia, and Vietnam are the top three countries.

Thai President Foods, the maker of Mama (a name synonymous in Thailand with instant noodles), which comes in more than 60 flavours, said its net profit in 2021 will be 515 million baht, or 12% less than the previous year, due to higher costs and lockdown measures.

According to Saree Ongsomwang of the Thailand Consumers Council, instant noodles had to be priced higher because the government failed to control raw material prices.

Wider societal changes may have also pushed noodle brands with a virtual monopoly on the market to raise their prices. As a result of the pandemic’s lingering effects, sales of instant noodles have fallen as the poorest forego meals and inflation has crept up.

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