Ha'apai MP warning over instant noodles

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From the Parliament of Tonga, October 2013

A six year old boy died after eating instant noodles, MP Mo’ale Finau of Ha’apai 12 constituency told the House.

The noodles, which come in colourful packets are particularly popular with students, because they are cheap and convenient to cook, and they just eat them right away.

Returning from school on September 18 the victim told his father that he was hungry, MP Finau told the House.

The father sent him to a retail shop to buy instant noodles. After eating the noodles with two of his brothers, his mother found the boy lying in the house but thought he was just lying down.

Later on the mum was told that the boy was not normal. The mum checked and noticed the colour of her son’s skin had turned dark, MP Finau said.

He was rushed to the hospital and attended by a doctor allegedly named Eka according to MP Finau.

The MP said the boy was sickened by the noodles and died immediately after his meal of them.

An investigation is underway, he added.

The doctor confirmed there was something unusual in the boy’s lungs and throat, but he wasn’t sure what that was in there. 

The doctor left for overseas. He was yet to return and confirm the result of the post mortem which he did.

The older brother of the victim who was eating the noodles with the boy, conceded the victim told him not long after they ate the noodles that he had a stomach ache.

At one point, the ingredients’ plastic bags were found emptied in the kitchen sink. MP Finau said the ingredients were “eaten” and “drunk” by the boy.

Food safety rule

Finau went further and expressed his concern that a research he knew of says about 95 per cent of primary and high school students in Tonga are affected, because they ate this type of noodle.

He said research by experts shows there is a poisonous chemical found in the ingredients that come with the noodles. 

There is a type of chemical known as “monosodium glutamate” found in the noodles' ingredients and it can cause kidney damage and stroke, Finau said.

The instant noodles contain a wax coating and that is why it does not stick together when cooking. MP Finau pointed out that that is a [poisonous] chemical that come with the noodle.

He invited the members of the House to try a package of instant noodle also known as Two Minute Noodles.

When they put it in boiling water they should notice a white stuff floating on top of the water and that is the wax. That is a chemical [poisonous], he said.

Finau told the House they had just passed a bill for Food Safety. They have discussed the issue of how the chemical is being harmfully used on vegetables.

He said this is the duty of the Ministry of Health, to take care of food safety, because it may cause people's deaths. The government should be sued if it was found out they failed to do their job, Finau said. 

Response

The Minister for Health was disturbed by MP Finau’s report and said he has not heard about a boy who died in the hospital.

He reminded the members, that the policy for raising matters regarding a particular ministry in the House has to go through the minister, by sending him questions in writing.

The minister said the way MP Finau raised his report about the boy contaminated the minds of the people about the minister's operations.

But MP Finau was thankful, believing that the minister’s response meant the message he was trying to reveal has been received, and now it just remained for the minister and his ministry to work on it.

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