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Wendyl Nissen: Revised noodles come up trumps with less fat

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Maggi Extra Delicious Chicken Flavoured 2 minute noodles. Photo / Supplied
Maggi Extra Delicious Chicken Flavoured 2 minute noodles. Photo / Supplied

These noodles are new to the market and are a great alternative to other noodle products which can have as much fat in them as a meat pie. When Consumer NZ surveyed 29 instant noodle products these were the only ones which met their criteria of less than 10g fat, less than 5g saturated fat and less than 1150mg sodium. It's great to see a big company like Maggi reformulating to make their product better for our kids, but what else is in them?

Noodles

Wheat flour

Tapioca Starch

This is a starch like cornflour except it is made from tapioca.

Vegetable oil (Antioxidant (320))

We don't know what oil is used in this but we do know that there are a number of studies attached to the antioxidant put in it to preserve it called butulated hydroxyanisole or BHA.

This was banned in Japan after reports of cancerous and benign tumours in the forestomach of rats fed BHA. A US National Institutes of Health report says BHA is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals." But it is thought that the low intake of BHA shows no increased risk of cancer in humans. California has listed it as a carcinogen.

Mineral Salts (508, 451, 501, 500, 452)

These are potassium chloride (508), potassium tripolyphosphate (451), potassium carbonates (501), baking soda (500) and potassium polymetaphosphate. They are all probably in the noodles as acidity regulators or rising agents.

Iodised Salt

Vegetable Gum (412)

This is guar gum which is a natural substance used as a thickener.

Colour (Riboflavin)

This is a natural orange/red colour which will be added to give the noodles a golden look.

Flavour Sachet

Maltodextrin

This is basically sugar taken from starch.

As the first ingredient listed, this means that most of the flavour sachet is sugar.

Flavour enhancers (621,635)

It's great that there are no artificial flavours in this product but these two flavour enhancers are avoided by healthy eaters.

It is accepted by the NZ Food Standards Authority that some people who consume MSG (621) may experience symptoms such as burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headaches, nausea and asthma but it says it is okay to have in food as long as it is labelled. They advise people who have symptoms to avoid it where possible. 635 stands for Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides. Eating large amounts of this ingredient can increase uric acid levels so people with gout or arthritis should consider this. However, it is considered safe in small amounts.

Iodised salt

Salt levels are quite high in this at 970mg of sodium per serve, which is 42 per cent of the recommended daily intake.

Sugar

More sugar in this seasoning, but per serve there is 2.7g of sugar which isn't too bad.

Yeast extract

This will give a meaty taste.

Natural flavours

If it says "natural" it has to be natural so this is a good sign.

Mineral salt (508)

This is potassium chloride mentioned above.

Vegetable Fat (Antioxidant (320))

More of the BHA (see above).

Onion power

This is onion dried to a powder.

Natural colours (Turmeric, Caramel I)

Turmeric is a yellow root similar to ginger and provides the colouring in curries. Caramel I is plain caramel without sulphites or ammonia in it.

Dried parsley

Garlic powder (contains sulphites)

Spice

My recommendations

Comparing these noodles to the alternative plain Maggi 2 minute chicken-flavoured noodles, these come up trumps mainly on the reduction in fat. These noodles have 1.9g of fat (0.7g saturated fat) compared with the plain noodles which have 12.9g (5.7g saturated fat). They also have a little less salt and a little more protein. Nowhere on the ingredients list can I see the word "chicken" listed which means the chicken flavour is achieved by other means, mainly chemical. The two flavour enhancers listed are controversial and the antioxidant added to the oils as a preservative is banned in Japan and believed to be a human carcinogen.

Instead of exposing your kids to these chemicals, try this recipe. Make up a sauce of cup low-salt soy sauce, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tsp chilli sauce and tsp sesame oil and keep it in the fridge. Get the kids to pour 2 tbsp over a plain cooked noodle cake. Or better still give them a banana, baked beans or a sandwich.

Highlights

* No chicken in chicken-flavoured noodles.
* Uses controversial antioxidant BHA.
* Very low fat.
* No artificial flavours or colours.

- Herald on Sunday

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