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What is up with Raman noodles?
I grew up on Raman noodles. My mom put everything but the kitchen sink into them; literally, everything but the kitchen sink (lol). I can remember eating them with eggs scrambled in, mixed vegetables, peas or corn. Because we didn't have a microwave in my earlier years, my mom cooked our Raman noodles on the stovetop, and they were oh so yummy!
When I became a mother, in 1990, I figured that what was good enough for me to eat would also be good enough for my kiddos to eat. And so, in like turn, my children have grown up on Raman noodles. They aren't as fond of all the extras that I like to put into them as I was; but, they have always been just as fond as Raman noodles as I was. And nowadays with the wonderful invention of convenience at the touch of a button (AKA the microwave), my kids can have their noodles cooked and ready to eat in three (3) minutes flat.
Who could have guessed what information my research turned up? Talk about a blown mind...read on for more.
What is this "secret" ingredient?
In scientific lingo, the big word for what has caused so much ado about Raman noodles is tertiary-butyl hydroquinone. A really big, fancy word for a potentially harmful substance.
**Please note at this point that, though I have pulled every package of Raman noodles from my pantry, you are free to choose what to feed or not to feed yourself or your family. That is a responsibility that lies on your own shoulders. I am merely passing the information I found in my research on to you.**
The basic definition for TBHQ (tertiary-butyl hydroquinone) is that it is an aromatic organic compound which is a type of phenol and is a derivative of hydroquinone, which is a substitution within the butyl (butane) group.
Huh? Yeah, me too...lol.
How about we "dumb" it down a bit?
No need to fear...I like big words, just not words THAT big. It's ok, we'll break it down a bit, and figure out what's what together.
- An organic compound can be a gaseous, liquid or solid compound made up of carbons. Carbon is, as we learned in Science class as high schoolers, the chemical basis of all known life.
- Phenol is an industrially synthesized, highly acidic germicide found in most disinfectants.
- Hydroquinone is most widely used by photographers to develop their pictures taken with cameras.
- Butane. This is a fairly known term for most of us. The most common form of butane is in the little cans that you can buy most everywhere where cigarettes are sold. It's used to refill lighters. Butane is the most common chemical within the tert-butyl group.
Putting it all together...
Okay, let's see if we got it now.
Tertiary Butyl Hydroquinone is a chemical compound, containing carbon, that can be classified within the same group of chemicals used to bleach and clean and disinfect, when cleaning, and, because it is a known agent to develop photographs, is also put into the same category as Butane, a flammable gas. It should also be noted that this chemical is used to produce varnishes (sealants to protect the surfaces of tables and shelves, etc.) and resins (of which I personally use for my violin bow).
Uh oh; did I just say all that? If all this is true, then how come they use it in foods such as Raman noodles, that kids eat!!
Because, in food, it is used as a preservative to enhance a longer storage life.
TBHQ is used in many industries. It can inhibit the autopolymerization of organic peroxides, which are powerful bleaching agents. It helps to inhibit corrosion when transporting biodiesel. And, in perfumes, is used to lower the evaporation rate of the applied perfume, as well as improving the chemical stability of the perfume itself.
Again, we'll break this word down to help us get a clearer picture of autopolymerization...because who of us goes around talking in a scientific vernacular all day long?
The process of autopolymerization is the accomplishment of polymerization by chemical means without external application of heat or light. Polymerization is the combining of several simpler molecules to form a heavier polymer. Polymers are often referred to as plastics, acrylics and nylons, just to name a few.
TBHQ and the USFDA
Yes, the USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration). The FDA has determined that a limited amount of TBHQ is safe to consume (.02% of the total fat or oil content in any specified food).
[The total fat grams in a pack of Raman noodles is 7 grams, meaning the TBHQ amount is equal to .0014 grams per pack of Raman noodles.]
And, although, the FDA claims that, in a limited amount, TBHQ is safe for human consumption, the same amount was given to lab animals with adverse affects (stomach ulcers and DNA gene mutation). The FDA has also stated that prolonged exposure of TBHQ is carcinogenic. It is my opinion that the government agency responsible for the regulation of food and drug consumption in this country should not be both sides of the same coin".
What does this mean for me as a consumer?
As a consumer, and as a mother, it is my duty, to purchase foods and other items that pose no threat or danger to my children. At the conclusion of my article, I will vehemently state that Raman noodles have no place in my pantry from this point on. I want to watch my children grow from children to teenagers to adults with families of their own. I do NOT want to watch my children continue to suffer stomach issues and gluten sensitivities made worse by chemicals in the foods I feed them. This is one mother who will be paying closer attention to ingredient labels on the foods she buys (even though it might mean more time in the store...lol).
As the old adage states...better safe than sorry.