Samples of locally produced instant noodles tested at the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) have been found to be safe and their lead concentration is below the internationally accepted risk level, Health Services Director General Dr. Palitha Mahipala said today.
An ad-hoc Food Consultative Committee meeting chaired by Dr. Mahipala and attended by officials representing the Consumer Affairs Authority, Sri Lanka Standard Institute and relevant Health Ministry officials was held to discuss the risk factors involving the instant Maggi noodles and also the steps taken by the Food Control Unit of the Health Ministry on the issue.
It was revealed during the discussion that Sri Lanka did not import instant noodles or related raw materials from India or any other country except Monosodium Glutamate, the main ingredient used to produce instant noodles.
The tests carried out at the ITI laboratories on randomly collected samples of instant noodles from the local market had revealed that lead contents of them were comparatively lower than the minimum permitted level. However, it was also revealed that a minimum permissible level of lead in noodles had not been determined in Sri Lanka by any institution, Dr. Mahipala stressed.
The lowest permissible level of lead in noodles in accordance with the international standards is 0.3mg/kg. The lead concentration in instant noodles samples tested at ITI was less than this level, he added.
“As a precautionary measure, we decided to test all varieties of noodles imported to Sri Lanka if any before entering them to the domestic market for heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium etc. All noodles producers in the country are ordered to occasionally test their noodles stocks for lead content, at a qualified laboratory with the assistance of district food inspectors and immediately remove stocks from the market if found to be containing lead concentrations over the permitted level of 0.3mg/kg.,” Dr. Mahipala said.
The committee also decided to suspend promotions, advertisements and commercials or any type of publicity on noodles in the print or electronic media or in any other medium until the situation returned to normal, he said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)