|Nongshim’s Seafood Ramyun / Courtesy of Nongshim|
By Kim Jae-heun
The carcinogen ethylene oxide has been found in Nongshim’s Seafood Ramyun packets that are exported to Europe, leading the country’s top instant noodle-maker to recall the product from the region as it investigates the source of the “contamination.”
According to the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), Thursday, ethylene oxide was found in Nongshim’s instant noodles sold in Germany. Ethylene oxide, which is often used as a surface disinfectant and sterilizer for heat-sensitive equipment, is classified as a class-one carcinogen by the International Cancer Research Institute.
The affected Seafood Ramyun instant noodles were produced only on Jan. 27 and March 3 of this year, and ethylene oxide concentrations in the products were measured at 7.4 parts per million (ppm) and 5.0 ppm on those respective dates. The EU standard is no more than 0.05 ppm, so Nongshim’s contaminated products were more than 148 times over that.
The RASFF immediately ordered a Europe-wide ban on the sale of these specific packages of Nongshim’s Seafood Ramyun ― those produced on other days can still be sold.
“Seafood Ramyun packages other than the ones produced on Jan. 27 and March 3 are being sold in Europe. Ethylene oxide was only found in the instant noodles produced on those two dates,” a company official said, adding there was no problem with products sold on the domestic market.
“The noodle products for export are produced in Busan while those sold locally are produced in Anseong, Anyang and Gumi,” the official said.
Instant noodles for export require a longer expiration date of up to 1 year, while those produced for domestic sales typically need only six months. The food firm said Seafood Ramyun products produced in January and March for local markets have already expired.
“In addition, we don’t produce much Seafood Ramyun for the local market,” the official added.
Meanwhile, Nongshim recently appointed its Vice Chairman Shin Dong-won as chairman, following the death of his father Shin Choon-ho, Nongshim’s founder.
In an address to mark his appointment, Shin said the company would boost exports of instant noodles and become the world’s top manufacturer. Nongshim is currently the fifth largest.
Shin also vowed to beef up environmental, social and corporate governance principles by establishing an internal body to handle such activities.