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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into the controversy surrounding the recall of certain Lucky Me! food products in numerous European Union (EU) nations due to the presence of ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical used to prevent microbial contamination in spices.

In an advisory, FDA officer-in-charge director general Dr. Oscar Gutierrez Jr., said they have received reports regarding the ongoing recall “of certain batches of the product Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton Noodles in EU countries and Taiwan” due to the presence of EtO.

“In the Philippines, the FDA-registered Lucky Me! Instant Pancit Canton Noodles are manufactured locally by Monde Nissin Philippines,” its statement said, explaining that EtO is a processing aid used to avoid the contamination of herbs and spices.

FDA said EU countries do not allow the use of EtO for sterilizing purposes to protect public health. However, traces are still possible from ingredients and raw materials used to make the products.

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Consequently, the EU established very low maximum residual levels dependent on the type of product, according to the FDA.

“The FDA is currently investigating this matter and coordinating with the aforementioned food business operator to check its compliance. We shall provide updates on the result of investigation for public information,” its advisory stated.

Health authorities in Ireland, Malta, and France issued different health warnings against Lucky Me!, stating some of its noodle product variants have ethylene oxide, a commonly used antimicrobial that may also cause cancer.

These products are Lucky Me! Pancit Canton Original Flavor, Pancit Canton Hot Chili, Instant Noodle Soup (Beef na Beef), and Pancit Canton Chilimansi.

In Malta, the Environmental Health Directorate Notice said: “In accordance with the Food Safety Act and Regulation (EC) No. 178 of 2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council,” the Environmental Health Directorate within the Superintendence of Public Health wishes to inform the public that following information received through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed said products must not be consumed due to high levels of ethylene oxide (a pesticide).”

Monde Nissin said in a statement issued also July 7 that they are aware about the information being shared by the EU and that the recall is affecting their other noodle brands and other products such as ice cream, sesame seed, spices, and calcium carbonate supplements.

“We would like to clarify that Ethylene Oxide is not added in Lucky Me! products. It is a commonly used treatment in spices and seeds to ]control microbial growth typical in agricultural products. These materials, when processed into seasoning and sauces, may still show traces of ethylene oxide,” the company said.

“Rest assured that all Lucky Me! products are Philippine FDA registered and comply with local food safety standards and even the US FDA standards for ethylene oxide,” it added.

For any concerns, it directed clients to its customer care at customercare@mondenissin.com

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.