The controversy over Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun is likely to continue for some time

Shin Ramyun Black Tofu Kimchi Flavored Bowl (A recording from the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration website)

Last month, Nongshim’s Shin Ramyun Black Tofu Kimchi Bowl Noodles was suspended from retail in Taiwan and Thailand due to the detection of harmful substances in it.

Nongshim said that, contrary to media reports, the products do not contain carcinogens. But as consumer groups have insisted that Nongshim’s products be thoroughly screened for harmful substances, the controversy is likely to continue for some time.

The Thai Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) has suspended the distribution of some Nongshim Shin Ramyun Black Tofu Kimchi Flavor Bowl products for consumer safety, according to media reports including Channel 7 in Thailand on Jan. 31.

The TFDA recalled a total of 3,040 bowls — 480 with a February 4 due date and 2,560 with a May 8 due date.

The move by the TFDA followed an announcement on Jan. 17 by the Taiwanese Food and Drug Administration that 0.075 (mg/kg) of ethylene oxide (EO), a pesticide, was found in a pesticide residue test on the same Nongshim noodle product. The Taiwanese government destroyed 1,000 boxes (1128 kg) of this product because it did not meet pesticide residue standards.
According to the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, EO is a substance that can cause human carcinogens when inhaled.

Nongshim said what was detected in his noodle products was 2-chloroethanol (2-CE), not ethylene oxide (EO). 2-CE is a harmful substance that can form as a by-product of EO, a pesticide. It is known to contain no carcinogen, unlike EO.

“Taiwan and Europe considered the two substances to be identical and announced that they had found ethylene oxide in the product, but the truth is that what they had discovered was 2-chloroethanol,” said a Nongshim official. “Korea and the United States consider the two substances to be different.”

Nongshim stressed that it considers this incident as a wake-up call and will further strengthen its commodity analysis

In response, Korean consumer groups insisted that Nongshim’s products be thoroughly researched and tested for harmful substances. “It is difficult to understand Nongshim’s statement that the substance is not a carcinogen and has no problem with the human body,” the Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty said in a Jan. 19 statement. no problem with the noodle products sold in Korea as no harmful substance was found.”