The Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) has asked local importers to recall two South Korean-made instant noodle brands recently called back in other countries after being found tainted with a carcinogen.
In a notice published Monday on its website, the agency under the Health Ministry said that some products under two popular brands of South Korea's leading instant noodle maker Nongshim hot and mild Neoguri ramen need to be called back.
The brands were among the company's six ramen brands that used soup powder contaminated with benzopyrene, a carcinogen produced during the process of cooking or manufacturing food at high temperatures.
Nongshim was ordered to withdraw the products in South Korea at the end of last month, even though authorities in that country earlier said that the amount of the substance was not enough to cause any harm to human health.
However, not all products under the two questionable brands will be recalled in Vietnam.
The targeted products are hot Neoguri varieties with expiration dates between October 22 and November 11, and mild Neoguri varieties set to expire between October 28 and November 17, the VFA said.
The agency also ordered food safety and hygiene agencies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to closely supervise and report on recalls of the products by local companies.
According to the notice, the agency made the order after receiving a letter from the South Korean Embassy in Vietnam regarding the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA)'s October 25 recall of contaminated Nongshim products.
The embassy said KFDA ordered Nongshim to take back its products because the company used contaminated smoke-dried bonitos for producing ramen soup powder.
In June, Korean authorities found the fish ingredient containing 10.6-55.6 parts per billion (ppb) of the substance compared to the permissible level of less than 10 ppb, a report on the Korea Times website said on October 27.
The ingredient was provided by Daewang to Nongshim, whose products in turn were detected to have 4.7 ppbs of benzopyrene, the news report said.
KFDA, which then said the amount in Nongshim products was too small to harm human health, did not order the recall until it was slammed for neglecting public health by lawmakers during a parliamentary inspection of the government, it said.
The recall has since caused anxiety in Asian markets like the Philippines and China.
In Vietnam, prior to the national food administration order, at least two supermarket chains in HCMC Lotte Mart and BigC said that they had also taken Nongshim's products off the shelves, pending further information following recalls in other countries.