Taiwan instant noodles source of new food scare

Taiwan instant noodles have become the latest product to face a recall over concerns about a potentially harmful food additive.

Two varieties were pulled from the shelves in Singapore after they were found to contain maleic acid.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said Long Kow vegetarian instant rice noodle and Long Kow rice noodle with thick soup were removed from sale as soon as the additive was detected in samples.

Those who bought the products before the recall should return them to the retailer or throw them away, AVA added.

Brand consultant Marc Sim, 34, said that while Long Kow noodles might not be as recognisable as, say, Maggi noodles, they could still have a target audience here.

Housewife Jane Tay, 45, who stocks Nissin cup noodles for her children, said: "Almost everyone I know has instant noodles at home, so it's a little scary."

Yesterday, AVA identified another two products containing the acid: the Full Free brand's yam and green tea tapioca balls.

To date, the total number of Taiwan starch-based products affected stands at 15. Most were tapioca balls used at some bubble-tea shops here.

Maleic acid is not an approved additive. AVA said that, at the levels detected, eating the products occasionally should not pose a significant health risk.

However, if the acid is consumed in large amounts over a long period, it could cause kidney damage.

AVA said it is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to test Taiwan products to ensure they do not contain the acid.

Members of the public can go to its website at www.ava.gov.sg or its Facebook page for updates.