The Consumers Association of Penang would like to congratulate the researchers for coming out with the report on the high sodium content in instant noodles (Berita Harian 17/10/19).
Since, 2010 CAP has been calling on the Ministry of Health to highlight the dangers of instant noodles. As the consumption of instant noodles can easily cause excessive sodium intake as sodium is commonly used in our other daily food especially in processed and hawker food.
However, the problem with instant noodles is not only confined to its high sodium content but also large amount of chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
According to the Codex Standards (FAO standards) for instant noodles, acid regulators, flavour enhancers, thickeners, humectants, colours, stabilizers, anti oxidants, emulsifiers, flour treatment agents, preservatives and anti caking agents – are allowed to be used in the making of instant noodles.
Twenty-four of the 136 listed additives in the Codex Standards are sodium salts. And the use of sodium additives is the main reason why instant noodles are high in sodium. High sodium foods can cause hypertension, heart disease, stroke kidney damage and other health problems.
Another health concern is the reported leaching of dioxin and other hormone-like substances from the plastic container cup of the noodle. As hot water is added harmful substances could seep into the soup.
One of the major concerns of instant noodle is that it can produce oxidised fat and oil if it is not managed properly during the manufacturing process. This is of concern if the cooking oil is not maintained at the proper temperature or the oil is not changed as often as necessary.
Instant noodles are coated with wax to prevent the noodles from sticking together. This can be observed when hot water is added to the noodles. After some time the wax can be seen floating in the water.
The Codex Standards also allow the use of 10,000 mg/kg the chemical propylene glycol – an anti freeze ingredient as humectants (helps to retain moisture to prevent noodles from drying) in instant noodles. Propylene glycol is readily absorbed and it accumulates in the heart, liver and kidneys causing abnormalities and damage. The chemical is also capable of weakening the immune system.
Instant noodles and the flavouring soup base also contain high amounts of monosodium glutamate (MSG). It is a flavour enhancer used by instant noodle makers to make their shrimp flavours ”shrimpier” and beef flavours “beefier”. MSG can trigger an allergic reaction in 1 to 2 % of the population. Individuals who are allergic to MSG can get burning sensations, chest and facial flushing or pain and headaches from it.
The high sodium consumption is linked to stroke or cause kidney damage. In Malaysia, there are an estimated 13,000 kidney patients undergoing dialysis. Every year 2,500 people join the ranks of end-stage renal failure patients. Six new cases of stroke occur every hour in Malaysia.
Some of the ingredients in instant noodles are also capable of causing cancer. For example, when the dioxin and the plasticisers leach from the containers in the presence of hot water. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least 30 percent of all cancers could be prevented through simple measures such as adopting a healthy diet.
Instant noodles are definitely an unhealthy diet which consumers should avoid.
In view of its unhealthy nature, the Consumers Association of Penang calls on the Ministry of Health to launch a campaign to highlight the dangers of instant noodles and at the same time to consider banning it.
For the sake of their health consumers should opt for more wholesome food.
Press statement, 22nd October 2019