If your supper of choice has always been instant noodles — be it Nissin Tom Yum Seafood, Shin Ramyun, Samyang Fire Noodles, Indomie, or maggi goreng from your late-night supper spot — here’s some good news. The old wives’ tale that these instant noodles have a wax coating that causes hair loss and cancer has been debunked.
There have also been claims circulating on the internet stating that instant noodles contain a wax coating and will cause cancer or hair loss. One such claim from 2016 recently resurfaced on Facebook, with the post shared over 9,000 times.
The post stated that the reason why instant noodles do not stick to each other while cooking is due to a wax coating and “wax can cause cancer”. It further elaborated that our body would require up to two days to “clean the wax”.
Instant noodles cause cancer: True or false?
According to USA Today, who conducted their research based on published sources, this statement is entirely false.
There has been no evidence or reports of wax being used as an ingredient in instant noodles or in styrofoam containers, said the outlet. So how did the cancer myth come about?
The rumour surrounding the use of wax in instant noodles has been floating around the internet since 2000 or even earlier, according to fact-checking site Snopes, debunking the claim that cup noodles posed a danger to consumers.
In a 2017 interview with online media Vice, Della Rachmadia, a nutritionist at the Prawijaya Women and Children’s Hospital said that “instant noodles can trigger cancer cells to be active, but so does all processed food — stuff like corned beef and chicken nuggets”.
“Both the noodles and the packets of flavouring contain preservatives, which means that they contain a large amount of sodium. Instant noodles can be dangerous for people who already have diabetes or high blood pressure, but it definitely does not directly cause cancer, especially on its own.”
So while instant noodles don’t directly cause cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy either.
We did some research online on our own and found that the Singapore Food Agency also clarified on its website that instant noodles are not coated with wax to give it a glossy appearance.
Rather, air-dried noodles undergo a high heat treatment to reduce moisture. This will cause an expansion of the surface of air-dried noodles, which gives it a glossy appearance.
What noodle companies say
Instant noodle companies have also refuted claims that their noodles are coated with wax. Nestle, the owner of Maggi noodles, states on its website that its noodles are not coated with wax and do not contain wax in any form.
“This misleading information has been floating around on the internet for years. Many people have checked with us and with independent sources, to confirm that this is a hoax,” it read.
On its website, Maruchan Ramen Noodles writes: “Please rest assured that there are no plastics or waxes used in the making of our instant noodle products. There are also no special coatings on the packaging or the containers, nor are the noodles coated for extended preservation or any other reason.” The company added that its noodles are made from flour, water and seasonings like salt and soy sauce.
Instant noodles and hair loss
And if you’re wondering if instant noodles can cause hair loss, there is no evidence for this claim either.
Most instant noodles contain monosodium glutamate, or better known as MSG, a flavour enhancer which is commonly found in processed foods. However, several studies have found little proof that people who consume MSG have any ill effects.
The Japanese company that manufactures MSG, Ajinomoto, has also stated on their website that MSG does not cause hair loss. The reason for hair loss could instead be due to genetics, ageing, hormonal changes and stress.
How instant noodles can affect your health
While it may not give you cancer, a study found that the regular consumption of instant noodles may lead to an increased risk of a condition known as “metabolic syndrome”.
People with a metabolic syndrome may have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes or face a higher risk of heart disease.
And as with most things, moderation is key. It’s fine to have instant noodles once in a while but it’s best not to overindulge in it on a daily basis.
Now that we know instant noodles are perfectly OK when consumed in moderation, here are some instant noodle recipes to try:
Still can’t get enough? Here are 8 Easy Ways To Elevate Your Instant Noodles, and 8 Best Sour And Spicy Instant Cup Noodles To Satisfy Your Cravings.
Text: Trini Ng/AsiaOne