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Nigerian politician tweets misleading claim about origin of Indomie noodles

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The recall of a popular noodle brand in Malaysia and Taiwan has generated controversy and false claims in Nigeria where noodles are sold under the same brand. One claim holds that Indomie noodles found in Nigeria are not manufactured locally. This is misleading: the company producing Indomie noodles in Nigeria began operations in Ogun state in 1996 and later opened two other factories in Rivers and Kaduna. The recall was confined to Asia.

“I am just finding out that Indomie is produced in Indonesia. I thought it was made in Nigeria. This country really need to move from consumption to production (sic),” reads a tweet published on May 1, 2023.

<span>A screenshot of the misleading tweet, taken on May 6, 2023</span>
A screenshot of the misleading tweet, taken on May 6, 2023

Retweeted more than 1,200 times, the post was shared by Obinna Nwosu, a politician who campaigned for a national assembly seat in February as the candidate of the fringe opposition African Democratic Congress.

The tweet includes an image of a packet of Indomie noodles, a popular brand in Nigeria.

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A noodle product of the Indomie brand was recently recalled by Malaysian and Taiwanese authorities (archived here) for containing ethylene oxide.

“The detection of ethylene oxide in the product did not comply with [health standards],” said Taiwan’s health ministry in a statement (archived here). “Businesses have been ordered to immediately remove them from their shelves.”

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The colourless and odourless compound increases the “risk of cancers of the white blood cells” (archived here).

The Asian recall was widely reported in Nigeria where Indomie noodles are popular (archived here).

Nwosu’s tweet also reechoed the campaign mantra of opposition leader Peter Obi, who insisted that Nigeria’s economy would be stronger if it produced more of what it consumed (archived here).

However, the claim that Indomie noodles in Nigeria are not manufactured in the country is misleading.

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Three factories in Nigeria

Dufil Prima Foods Plc produces Indomie Noodles in Nigeria for domestic consumption. According to the company’s website, it has one factory each in Ogun, Rivers, and Kaduna states (archived here), which opened in 1996, 2008 and 2011, respectively.

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The company is owned by Indonesia’s Salim Group and Tolaram Africa Foods Pvt. Ltd.. Tolaram Africa itself is a joint venture between Tolaram Group of Singapore and Kellogg’s from the United States.

The Nigerian factories are geolocated herehere and here.

Nigerian media outlets have regularly published reports about these factories. A newspaper article from 2004 said the Ogun facility was temporarily shut down that year to allow for an investigation into “hazardous batches” of Indomie noodles (archived here).

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Another article, from 2012, described the Kaduna factory as the “largest noodles factory in Africa” (archived here).

Following the recall in Malaysia and Taiwan, Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) said that the Indomie “special chicken” flavour noodles sold in the two Asian countries is not registered in Nigeria (archived here).

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NAFDAC confirmed the Indomie noodles consumed in Nigeria are produced locally.

NAFDAC’s director-general, Mojisola Adeyeye, told local broadcaster TVC that “Indomie [importation] has been banned by the Nigerian government, and the purpose is to encourage local manufacturing of Indomie, so we have local manufacturers of Indomie … and we have tested their products are safe.”

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Top African noodle consumer

Nigerians are the highest consumers of noodles in Africa, statistics released by the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA) show (archived here). It is the only African country among the top 20.

WINA said about 2.6 billion servings of noodles were consumed in the country in 2021, jumping from 1.7 billion servings in 2017.

<span>A screenshot of a WINA chart showing the rise in Nigeria noodle consumption between 2017 and 2021</span>
A screenshot of a WINA chart showing the rise in Nigeria noodle consumption between 2017 and 2021

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