The National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment has expressed concern over the revelation of alleged presence of a carcinogenic compound, ethylene oxide in Indomie Instant Noodles ‘Special Chicken Flavour’.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said it was extending its investigation of Indomie noodles to factories and markets, following fears of the presence of ethylene oxide in the ‘Special Chicken Flavour’ of Indomie instant noodles, recalled by the Malaysia and Taiwan authorities.
NAFDAC, however, said the implicated ‘Special Chicken Flavour’ is not registered for sale in Nigeria.
A press statement signed by the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NICRAT, Prof Usman Aliyu, commended the prompt intervention of NAFDAC to extend its investigation of Indomie noodles to factories and markets.
“NICRAT’s review of ethylene oxide shows that the compound has grave consequences to human health, especially when consumed. Our in-depth review of ethylene oxide indicated that it is a highly reactive chemical that is used as a raw material to make other compounds such as glycol ethers and polyglycol ethers, as well as a range of emulsifiers, detergents, and solvents.
“Ethylene oxide is also widely used as a fumigant for cleaning culinary goods, including spices. It is also frequently used to disinfect medical equipment, particularly those that might be harmed by heat sterilisation.
“Our review, therefore, revealed that there is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of ethylene oxide, and there is strong evidence that the carcinogenicity of ethylene oxide, a direct-acting alkylating agent, operates by a genotoxic mechanism,” the statement reads in part.
The agency said if found that some brands of Indomie noodles contain ethylene oxide, Nigerians should expect an escalation of various forms of cancers in the months or years ahead, depending on how long people have consumed that brand.
“More worrisome, is that Nigerians should also expect an increase in cancer cases among children because Indomie noddles is a popular food among most Nigerian children.
“NICRAT’s concern is premised on the fact that cancer has claimed a lot of lives in Nigeria. In 2020 alone, 78,000 Nigerians died as a result of cancer-related complications -34,200 males and 44,699 females.
“NICRAT, therefore, advice Nigerians to obey NAFDAC’s instructions on the ban and consumption of Indomie Instant Noodles ‘Special Chicken Flavour’. We will further collaborate with NAFDAC in ensuring the safety and protection of Nigerians from cancer-causing agents. NICRAT, however, assures Nigerians of its commitment to take cancer prevention, research, and treatment to the next level by ensuring that Nigerians are safe from all forms of cancers,” it added.