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No, Nigeria’s food regulator has not banned instant noodles imports over fears they may cause cancer

IN SHORT: With Nigeria being a major market for instant noodles, claims that the food has been banned because of cancer fears have been widely shared. But they are inaccurate.

A post circulating on Facebook claims that Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (Nafdac) has banned the importation of an instant noodles brand, Indomie, after discovering that it contains a carcinogen.

Carcinogens are substances that may cause cancer.

The message reads: “BREAKING NEWS:  NAFDAC has banned the Importation of indomie noodles. REASON: Discovery of ethylene oxide in it causing cancer. I didn't even know that Indomie is also imported into this country! So indomie is made in Indonesia.”

The claim has been posted on other pages, such as here, here, here and here.

In May 2023, Nafdac announced that it would randomly test different brands and seasonings of instant noodles.

This followed news that the “special flavour” of the Indomie brand of noodles was recalled in Taiwan and Malaysia after ethylene oxide, a possible carcinogen, was found in the product.

The agency said it was testing locally produced noodles and their seasonings for the same ethylene oxide substance flagged by the Taiwan and Malaysian authorities. Its findings will be made public once investigations are concluded.

Ethylene oxide is a gas used in the manufacturing of products such as detergents and plastics.

Nigeria is one of the world's top noodle consumers. Posts warning people about the dangers of eating noodles have flooded social media in the country, with some claiming all Indomie products are imported.


Nafdac: Nigerian-made noodles safe for consumption

Noodles are on the Nigerian government's list of goods that cannot be imported.

Indomie noodles were first introduced to Nigeria in 1988 via exports, but local production began in 1995 by Dufil Prima Foods, a joint venture between Indofood, Tolaram and Kellogg’s.

Spokesperson for Dufil Prima foods, Temitope Ashiwaju, told the media its noodles were not imported but produced locally. 

Indomie noodles had been produced locally for at least three decades, which made Nigeria different from Indomie Taiwan and Indomie Malaysia, he said.

In an interview on 4 May 2023, Nafdac’s director general Mojisola Adeyeye said the locally produced version of Indomie noodles were safe for consumption.

Adeyeye said there was a ban on the importation of foreign-made noodles,  which had been in place for years. It was not a result of the recent developments.

Nigeria has not banned Indomie because of the discovery of ethylene oxide. 

For more on this story read our report on the testing of instant noodles by Nafdac.

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