Social Media Claim

Instant noodles wax claim lacks truth and taste

A Facebook post repeats an often-debunked claim that there's a wax coating on instant noodles.

The Statement

Eating instant noodles is a pleasure or necessity shared by diners around the world but a social media post claims that a humble bowl of the quick-fix meal could cause cancer.

A Facebook post by the page, The Healthy Food Life, from February 13, 2018 reads, “Did you know? Instant noodles contain wax coating which is also used in styrofoam containers. That is why instant noodles don’t stick to each other while cooking. Our body needs up to 2 days to clean the wax. Make sure you stop eating a pack of noodles for at least 3 days after a session of noodles. This wax can cause CANCER. SHARE IF YOU CARE!” Accompanying the text is a picture of a dry block of instant noodles.

The Healthy Food Life is a page featuring health, beauty and fitness information and tips. It was created in 2017 and, according to Facebook, the page has two managers who are based in Macedonia.

The post has generated more than 80,000 shares and has been shared by Australian users. It has also attracted more than 3500 comments and 1800 reactions and been viewed more than 260,000 times in the past four months.

Noodles don't stick together because they've been fried, a food safety expert told AAP FactCheck.

The Analysis

The origin of the instant noodles post can be traced to an email circulated on the internet in 2000. That email was debunked in the same year by US fact checking unit Snopes.

The email read, “For our health concern, pls (sic) pass on the msg to those you know who loves Instand (sic) Noodles. This is what I heard from a fellow colleague. Her nephew, who was studying in UK for about one and a half years, likes to eat cup-a-noodle. And guess what! His doctor has found that there is a layer of wax lining the walls of his stomach. Seems that instand (sic) noodles that comes with foam containers contain an edible layer of wax. However, regular consumptions make it hard for our livers to clear the toxic. This person died when he went for an operation to try to remove the layer. Pls (sic) do not boil the noodles in the container. Transfer to a glass bowl before you put the hot water.”

The earliest example of the post featuring the text being examined by AAP FactCheck turned up on Facebook in 2012, according to Snopes. Fact checkers Truth or Fiction debunked the post in March 2015, followed by the Hoax-Slayer site in February 2017 and Vice in August 2017.

Despite the instant-noodles-and-wax claim being debunked multiple times over two decades, it has persisted and continues to circulate on social media.

AAP FactCheck contacted Gary Kennedy, a National Food Safety Auditor and food safety consultant with Correct Food Systems, a compliance advisory company, for an expert opinion.

Mr Kennedy told AAP FactCheck in an email that the post is untrue and listed three reasons why instant noodles do not stick together. Mr Kennedy wrote:

“1. Instant noodles are fried. They all have a slippery coating on the outside from the frying oil - the same oil we use in our homes. This helps to prevent them sticking together.

“2. They generally have smooth surfaces and so there are few rough surfaces to ‘catch’ and cause them to stick together. Pasta such as spaghetti has similar properties. This is analogous to human hair, which does have a rough surface. If you don’t comb your hair, it sticks together and forms dreadlocks.

“3. You eat them soon after you cook them. If you do let pasta or noodles sit around after cooking in the pot or bowl to cool, they will set into one big lump. This is an effect of the starch released in cooking acting as a glue. This is why you often wash pasta and rice after cooking, so that the released starch does not cause the noodles, pasta or rice to stick to one another.”

Regarding the claims about wax, Mr Kennedy said noodle cups don’t have a wax coating nor is there a wax coating on instant noodles.

“The polystyrene cup has a flat surface from the manufacturing process that does not need a release mechanism such as a wax being applied," he said.

“The article talks about wax being dangerous. Beeswax is a common wax used in the food industry and it’s natural and 100 per cent edible.”

Mr Kennedy said all waxes used in the food industry have to be medically proven to be safe.

“Food in contact with wax is common - think Edam cheese such as the Babybel brand,” he said.

“Wax seals on jars and bottles is a traditional method of sealing containers. Many shiny foods have a wax coating applied.”

Mr Kennedy said waxes used in the food industry are not broken down in the body.

“They pass out of your body unabsorbed. They do not accumulate,” he told AAP FactCheck.

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post to be false. The post’s claims about a wax coating on instant noodles and the wax causing cancer are not true, a Australian food safety expert told AAP FactCheck. The claims have already been debunked multiple times in the past.

  • False - The primary claims of the content are factually inaccurate.

First published January 31, 2020, 13:45 AEDT