The National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT) has expressed its concern about the possible presence of ethylene oxide in Indomie Instant Noodles’ ‘Special Chicken Flavour’ and its potential to cause an increase in cancer cases among Nigerian children.
In a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, the director-general of NICRAT, Prof. Usman Aliyu stated that the consumption of the brand of noodles, a popular food among Nigerian children, may lead to an escalation of various forms of cancer in the coming months or years.
NICRAT was established in 2017 as an agency with the mandate to prevent, conduct research, and treat cancers in Nigeria. The agency’s concern stemmed from an ongoing investigation by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which has reaffirmed the ban on the importation of ‘Indomie’ noodles into the country.
Taiwan and Malaysia, Science Nigeria understands, authorities have discovered ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing agent, in some ‘Indomie’ noodles.
According to Aliyu, the agency’s review of ethylene oxide shows that the compound has grave consequences for human health, especially when consumed. Ethylene oxide is a highly reactive chemical used as a raw material to make other compounds, such as glycol ethers and polyglycol ethers, as well as a range of emulsifiers, detergents and solvents. It is also widely used as a fumigant for cleaning culinary goods, including spices.
NICRAT’s review indicates that there is sufficient evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity of ethylene oxide, and there is strong evidence that the carcinogenicity of ethylene oxide, a direct-acting alkylating agent, operates by a genotoxic mechanism. Aliyu explained that cancer has claimed many lives in Nigeria, with 78,000 Nigerians dying as a result of cancer-related complications in 2020 alone (34,200 males and 44,699 females).
Therefore, NICRAT advised Nigerians to obey NAFDAC’s instructions on banning and consuming Indomie Instant Noodles ‘Special Chicken Flavour.’ The agency also pledged to collaborate with NAFDAC in ensuring the safety and protection of Nigerians from cancer-causing agents.
In conclusion, NICRAT’s warning about the possible increase in childhood cancer cases due to Indomie noodles highlighted the need for Nigerians to be vigilant about what they consume.
The agency’s commitment to taking cancer prevention, research and treatment to the next level is commendable and underscores the importance of investing in cancer control measures in Nigeria. It is essential to prioritise the safety and well-being of Nigerians by ensuring that food products, especially those targeted at children, are free from harmful substances.