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MANILA, Philippines - Korean instant noodles that were recalled by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) on October 25 for containing benzopyrene, a cancer-causing substance, are still on store shelves of Korean specialty shops in Makati City and Quezon City, a toxics watchdog said Sunday.
In a news release, the EcoWaste Coalition made the discovery after conducting test buys on October 27 as part of the group’s observance of the National Food Safety Awareness Week (October 25-29) and the Consumer Protection Month this October.
“In the interest of consumer health and safety, Filipinos who are fond of Korean ramyeon (ramen) should refrain from consuming the recalled items, and shop owners should return the remaining stocks to the manufacturers at once,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.
“We request our local FDA to look into this food safety issue and take appropriate action,” she added.
Last Thursday, the KFDA announced the recall of nine types of instant noodles, including six products manufactured by Nongshim Co. Ltd., after detecting concentrations of benzopyrene in the powdered seasonings.
Among those ordered withdrawn from the market were Nongshim's Mild Neoguri, Spicy Neoguri, Neoguri Cup Noodles (large and small), Saewootang Cup Noodles (large), and Seng Seng Udong.
The EcoWaste Coalition was able to purchase Mild Neoguri, Spicy Neoguri, Neoguri Cup Noodles (small), Saewootang Cup Noodles (large) and Seng Seng Udong from local Korean stores.
The KFDA had earlier tested 30 samples of Korean-made instant noodles and found benzopyrene, ranging from 1.2 to 4.7 parts per billion, in 20 items.
Soon after the KFDA announcement, Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese health authorities ordered the removal of the recalled items from store shelves.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Toxicity and Exposure Assessment for Children’s Health (TEACH), benzopyrene is “a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion or burning of organic items, e.g., cigarettes, gasoline, and wood, and is commonly found with other PAHs in cigarette smoke, in grilled and broiled foods, and as a by-product of many industrial processes.”
The US EPA classifies benzopyrene as a probable human carcinogen based on studies in several adult animal species demonstrating that the substance can increase the incidence of tumors.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that benzopyrene is carcinogenic in experimental animals and is probably carcinogenic in humans.