South Korean noodles to stay on shelves pending test results

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) Health officials said Sunday that they will wait for the release of official test results before deciding whether a further three brands of instant noodles produced by a South Korean company at the center of a health scare should be pulled from store shelves. The noodles reportedly contain traces of benzopyrene, a known carcinogen. The South Korean authorities recalled two of the products produced by that country's Nongshim Co. in late October. However, the New Taipei-based Shing Her Co. said it had sent a dozen noodle products it imports from Nongshim Co. for testing Oct. 30, which showed the samples to be clear of benzopyrene. The Department of Health (DOH) said that the New Taipei health department has also conducted tests on the products and until the results are released, due later in the day at the earliest, it will not demand that the products be pulled from shelves. The DOH was responding to a report by the local cable network TVBS a day earlier that the popular Shin Ramyun brand of noodles were found to contain 0.75 ppb of benzopyrene. The importer said the 0.75 ppb level was lower than the European Union's allowable residue level of 5 ppb for most foods and its 1 ppb level for infant foods, adding that the DOH has not set any such levels for benzopyrene. The DOH responded that it is mulling setting such a level, saying that it may use the EU's standard. Two Nongshim-brand noodles -- Neoguri seafood mild noodles and Neoguri seafood spicy noodles -- were ordered off store shelves by the DOH Oct. 25, hours after South Korea recalled six Nongshim products, including the two found to contain benzopyrene. (By Chen Ching-fang, Claudia Liu and Scully Hsiao)