Health authorities in Jakarta yesterday said a laboratory confirmed that Indonesian-made instant noodles were not a danger, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported.
Ten days ago, the sale of Indomie-brand instant noodles was halted in Taiwan, after the health department there said the product contained excessive levels of the preservatives methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, as well as a parahydroxy benzoate. The noodles are manufactured by the Indonesian government-run Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur.
Indonesia’s Food and Drug Monitoring Agency rushed to defend the safety of the noodles before conducting tests, a move that prompted protestors to set packages of noodles afire.
On Monday, the agency’s head told the Jakarta Globe that a sample of 158 packets of soy sauce contained with noodles from several companies had since been tested. Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate was found in 96 of the packets, but not at levels exceeding the maximum limit stipulated by the government. The rest of the sample did not contain any trace of the preservative.
Indonesia allows up to 250 milligrams of methyl p-hydroxybenzoate per kilogram, which is more stringent than the 1,000-mg limit set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food standards body.
“I hope the results of these tests will help dispel the public confusion; we are not defending any brand in particular because now we have shown that not only Indomie, but other noodles are safe as well,” he said.
He also said the agency had over the past five years conducted regular tests to ensure the safety of packaged foods in Indonesia.
Husna Zahir, head of the Indonesian Consumer Protection Foundation, said the Indomie case should serve as a lesson for the state not to release statements without first securing evidence to back its claims. “This is also a good opportunity for the government to see if some brands can manage without preservatives,” she said. “Why can’t they? It is better to be safe than sorry.”