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The BBC's Clare Arthurs
"Formaldehyde is normally used for preserving bodies - such as that of the father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 15:36 GMT
Vietnam noodle fright

hanoi noodle bar Hanoi's noodle bars have emptied in the wake of the scare


Vietnamese health authorities have cracked down on food producers after finding a chemical used for embalming bodies in noodles.

The authorities said noodle producers, mainly in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City, have been adding formaldehyde to fresh noodles to lengthen their shelf-life and enhance flavour.

Formaldehyde is normally used for preserving dead bodies.


fish in formaldehyde Formaldehyde is also used to perserve specimens
Following an emergency meeting, the government announced that it would tighten food production regulations and introduce compulsory registration of noodle-makers.

Those found to violate health standards would be fined and shut down.

People have been warned not to eat the contaminated noodles, as consuming the chemical over long periods of time can increase the risk of cancer.

The BBC's East Asia reporter, Clare Arthurs, said blanket coverage of the food scare had emptied the usually busy restaurants and street stalls selling the traditional noodle soup, pho.

The soup, a favourite in the north of the country, is enriched with chicken, beef or pork and fresh herbs, and spiked with additives such as formaldehyde, colouring and chemicals to make the noodles chewy.

Local media reported that formaldehyde had been smuggled into Vietnam and sold widely for as little as 5,000 dong (30 cents) a litre.

Exporters said the chemical was not used in dry noodles sold for overseas markets.

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See also:
08 Oct 98 |  Entertainment
Formaldehyde fish a catch at 150,000
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