To eat or not to eat, that was the question after consumers in Korea were left wondering whether their noodle soups are safe.
On Wednesday, the Korea Food and Drug Administration announced that the powdered seasoning in six noodle soups produced by Nongshim was found to contain benzopyrene, which is known to cause lung, bladder and skin cancer.
It was alerted to the benzopyrene risk by a lawmaker who had raised the concern in a parliamentary audit earlier in the day.
The KFDA also said that the amount of benzopyrene in the powder was harmless and not enough to cause cancer, as it is less than one-10-thousandth of the amount of benzopyrene typically found in grilled meat.
That did not, however, allay consumer concerns about the cancer-causing substance and on Thursday, the KFDA succumbed and ordered the soups off the shelves.
[Interview : Sohn Mun-gi, Food Safety Bureau
Korea Food and Drug Administration] "Although the amount of benzopyrene is not large enough to harm consumers' health, we have decided to recall the products in consideration of consumers' concerns."
That has left consumers across the country confused.
[Interview : Lee Yu-mi, Seoul Resident
] "If they said it is safe, they should have left it as it was. Now that they've changed their mind, I don't know what to believe."
Nongshim claims its products are safe, even if a person were to eat the soup every day during his or her lifetime.
A professor from Gangbuk Samsung Medical Center Hospital also backs the claim.
[Interview : Kim Dong-il, Professor
Gangbuk Samsung Medical Center] "The amount is very small -- from one-hundredth to one-10-thousandth of the amount when you eat grilled meat. Even if you eat it for a long period of time, it does not result in cancer."
But that hasn't stopped the concerns from spreading outside the country.
Hours after the KFDA ordered the recall in Korea, health authorities in Taiwan followed suit and ordered a recall of imported Nongshim products there as well.
Heo Seung-ha, Arirang News.