The guy who invented instant noodles, Momofuku An, the founder of Japan's Nissin Foods, always intended them to be a little bit unhealthy.

In 1948, the Japanese needed something cheap, tasty and high-calorie to keep them full as food shortages plagued the nation after World War II. Mr Momofuku's instant noodles were an instant hit.

He went on to invent Cup Noodles - now a dietary staple of the perpetually hung-over university student - and died in 2007, leaving his company with a total asset value of $NZ830 million.

Mr Momofuku is celebrated as a genius who brought convenience to the masses. According to a 2000 poll conducted by the Fuji Research Institute, "the Japanese believe that their best invention of the 20th century was instant noodles."


But now as the world battles a growing obesity epidemic and consumers turn away from processed foods, instant noodles have earned a bad reputation.

Two minute noodles are the perfect example of what we're told we shouldn't be eating - packaged, processed, salty carbs.

This image problem presents a challenge for Maggi, one of the biggest manufacturers of instant noodles in the world.

Consumer research has told the company that consumers are picking up their products from the supermarket shelf, reading the ingredients list, then returning them to the shelf, dissatisfied with what they're reading.

So they've changed the formula of both their two-minute noodles and their recipe base sachets.

Sodium levels have been reduced up to 55 per cent, removed some preservatives and chemicals and a gluten free range has been introduced.

"We've tried to focus on ingredients that people know and understand. When you see the ingredient list we want it to be something that you're likely to find in your own pantry," Maggi's in-house nutritionist Vanessa Furlong told at the product launch on Tuesday.

"We're taking out things like maltodextrins, modified starches and emulsifiers and replacing these with ingredients people recognise, like herbs and spices."

The packaging has also changed. The healthy-sounding phrases, "Simply good for you" and "Know what is inside" are peppered across the front.

On the back are instructions for how to "Balance Your Meal" with healthy ingredients.

"We're really amping up our messages around vegetables," said Ms Furlong, pointing to the packet which says "fill half your plate with vegetables or salad".

"You'll see on the back of the packet now we've got a plate that says fill have your plate with vegetables and a quarter protein and a quarter starches, so people get that balance.

"We've done consumer research and the feedback we're getting is people want healthier options, so we're responding to that by changing our recipes to meet that trend towards a cleaner label."

But despite these changes, nutritionist Susie Burrell says Maggi's two minute noodles and recipe base sachets are still not a healthy option.

"Not only are pre-packaged noodle and pasta dishes packed full of preservatives, flavours and additives, but nutritionally they tend to be a high carb, high salt meal option," she said.

"The average bowl of noodles can contain more salt than is recommended to eat in an entire day, while the pasta and sauce combos are often high in fat, salt and flavours. MSG is often added as are thickeners, preservatives, flavours and colours to help the food resemble what it is supposed to look like when reconstituted.

"Do yourself a favour and eat your noodles or pasta fresh, the way they are supposed to be enjoyed."