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Inflammable noodles rumor busted!

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The Beijing News, February 25th, 2011

Paranoia over food safety runs deep as the incidence of shocking food scandals flies high. It seems here everyone is hyper-sceptic when it comes to what to eat, quick to pick up on suspicious cues and buy into conspiracy theories.

Which is perhaps why a Internet video clip showing freshly pressed noodles easily catch on fire raises so much concern among the noodle-eating public. Rumor has it that that some unknown, likely harmful additives make the wet noodles inflammable. Noodles, after milk powder, and duck blood, are no longer safe, right?

Today's Beijing News dedicates an entire page discussing the possible causes behind combustible noodles.

A noodle dealer is quoted as saying that there is nothing unusual about burning noodles as the wheat flour that makes them is inflammable. A manager of a noodle producer says that sometimes alcohol is used to keep noodles fresh, which may contribute to their flammability, but he insists that alcohol as a food additive is both legal and safe. A nutrition professor says that common wheat flour additives, such "edible glue", "elasticizer", and potassium carbonate, don't promote combustion, so there is no link between burning noodles and additives.

But the damage has been done: a shop assistant tells the newspaper that customers keep asking him whether weird stuff was in the noodles and a shopper says that she is not going to buy noodles until the truth comes out.

In a separate, but also noodle-related story, five Carrefour staff were hospitalized after eating some noodles stolen from the shelves. The cause remains unclear but nitrite poisoning is suspected.

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