After decades of bad-mouthing instant noodles, arguably the most affordable and commonly consumed fast-food in China, experts in the country have suddenly changed their tune about the food, urging the media and people to refrain from labeling it as 「junk food,」 which has led to a slump in sales in recent years.
For many, instant noodles are the embodiment of fast-food in China, almost becoming a cultural symbol of long train journeys and students』 college dorm rooms. They are cheap, convenient, and available at almost any convenience story and supermarket across the country. A bag of seasoning, a pouch of oil, some hot water and hey presto – dinner is served.
However, nutritionists in the past never ceased to remind people about the unhealthy aspects of the food, with the common refrain being that instant noodles 「contain too many preservatives」. They are also very high in salt, with just one serving of one popular brand』s mushroom and chicken instant noodles containing 680mg, half of the daily recommended allowance of sodium.
While the smell of instant noodles still permeates through the country』s commuter trains and college dorms, the popularity of the food has actually dwindled sharply in recent years, especially among urban populations, with the food gradually becoming a last resort for the poor who can』t afford to eat much more.
A fiscal report by the famous Chinese instant noodle brand Master Kong shows that their net profits in the first half of 2016 dropped by 64.75 percent compared with the previous year. Meanwhile, the popularity of instant noodles is steadily rising overseas – a report suggested that the snack has now even become a form of currency used by prison inmates in the United States.
As China falls out of love with instant noodles and pushes them towards economic peril, Zhong Kai, an expert on nutrition, points out that instant noodles should not be categorized as junk food. As the noodles are deep-fried in palm oil, there』s no need to add any preservatives to kill bacteria, as each pack barely contains any water content. Zhong also suggested that nobody should rely on a single diet in the long run, advising a balanced diet.