Senior executives from Indofood, the world’s biggest maker of instant noodles, on Monday speculated that unfair trade practices or illegal imports were to blame for their products being pulled off shelves in Taiwan on Friday, as two chains in Hong Kong followed suit on Monday.
Meanwhile, Indonesian health officials moved to reassure the public the noodles were safe.
Fransiscus Welirang, director of Indofood Sukses Makmur, questioned the Taiwan Health Department’s motives for banning Indomie brand instant noodles, which are produced by Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur, a spinoff company.
“Taiwan wants to protect its market from Indomie, which is cheaper than any other noodles,” Fransiscus said.
He also suggested that the Indomie noodles in Taiwan might have been intended for other markets and illegally imported to the island nation, which has higher food-safety standards than other countries.
Indofood CBP makes the Indomie noodles with different ingredients for different markets.
On Friday, Taiwanese authorities banned the brand on the grounds that it contained excessive levels of the preservative benzoic acid.
On Monday, the Hong Kong newspaper The Standard reported that two of the city’s biggest supermarkets, Park’n’Shop and Wellcome, had also taken Indomie noodles off their shelves because of the Taiwan ban.
Kustantinah, head of Indonesia’s National Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM), on Monday said the noodles were safe.
“There’s no need to panic. All instant noodles that have been registered [with us] are safe,” she said.
Kustantinah said she would ask the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to try to find out more about Indofood products being pulled.
“We have no diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, so we can’t just ask its food and drugs agency to clarify the situation, but perhaps people from the Trade Ministry can ask why,” she said.
Fransiscus said all Indofood CBP’s products were in full compliance with the guidelines set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food-standards body. However, he acknowledged that Taiwan had independent guidelines.