PROF (MRS) F. M. DAVID- ABRAHAM, EBONYI STATE UNIVERSITY ABAKALIKI.
Noodles are popular foods in South East Asia and have become accepted and popular in many countries including, Nigeria. Instant Noodles was first produced by Nisshin products in 1958 (Pravda.ru,2005). It was recognized as the best Japanese invention of the 20th century. Almost 40% of wheat products in Asian countries are consumed in the form of noodles (Ojure and Quadri, 2012). The success of noodles all over the world is due to its low and affordable prices, bearable taste, convenience, and the minimum efforts that the product requires for cooking.
2.0 THE GLOBAL DEMAND AND CONSUMPTION OF INSTANT NOODLES
Dry Noodles take a top position on the list of fast meals .About 95 billion pieces of instant noodles were produced in 2010 equivalent to 1.1 piece/person/month. The global demand for instant noodles as complied by World Instant Noodle Association, (2013) is presented in Table 1.0.Nigeria is the largest instant noodles consumer in Africa and the 12th largest consumer in the world. There are about nine brands of instant noodles in Nigeria.
Table 1.0 Global Demand for Instant Noodles
|Country / Region||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012|
|1||China / Hong Kong||42,530||40,860||42,300||42,470||44,030|
|7||Republic of Korea||3,340||3,480||3,410||3,590||3,520|
Unit: 1 Million Packets (Bags/Cups)
Estimated by World Instant Noodles Association (WINA,2013)
3.0 CLASSIFICATION OF NOODLES
Noodles are classified based on many criteria such as formulation, size, processing methods and product forms. These are discussed below :-
Noodles are primarily formulated from flour, water and salt. Different types of noodles can also be made with the addition of some other ingredients. Noodle formulation in different countries is presented in Table 2.0.
Table 2.0 Noodle Formulation In Different Countries
|Ingredient||ChineseRaw||Japanese Ud Udon||ChineseeW wet||MMMalaysianHo Hokkien||Chuku me men||Instantfried||Thailandddd Bares|
( Hou and Kruk ,1998) .
Chinese-type noodles are generally made from hard wheat flours, with characteristic bright creamy white or bright yellow colour and firm texture, while Japanese noodles are made from soft wheat flour of medium protein content and a creamy white colour. Noodles can be classified as white (containing salt) examples of which are Chinese raw noodles, Japanese noodles and dry noodles or yellow containing alkaline salt .Chinese wet noodles are characterized by the presence of alkali salt while some others are characterized by the presence of sodium hydroxide. The high pH gives the noodles their characteristic yellowness, alkaline flavor, and improved texture (Morris et al.,2000). Chinese wet and Malaysian hokkien are parboiled types while chukumen can be either uncooked or cooked. Instant fried noodles contain guar gum or other hydrocolloids which makes them firmer and easier to rehydrate upon cooking or soaking. Polyphosphate allow more water retention on the noodle surface, thus giving them better mouthfeel. Native or modified starches are added in instant fried noodles to give springy texture, improved cooking and steaming quality. Noodles containing buckwheat are called soba. These are light brown or grey in colour with a unique taste and flavor ( Hou and Kruk ,1998).
Noodles are classified based on the width of the strands ( Hou and kruk, 1998) as Very thin ( 0.7 – 1.2 mm wide) ,Thin (1.3 – 1.7 mm wide) ,Standard (1.9 – 3.8 mm wide),Flat ( 5.0 – 6.0 mm wide) .
3.3 PRODUCTION METHODS
Noodles can be produced with hand or machine.
Hand –made noodles are still available in Asia because of their pleasant texture while machines are best suited for mass production of noodles.
The general noodle processing operations include mixing raw materials, dough sheeting, compounding, sheeting, rolling and slitting. The process remain the same irrespective of the noodles type or the country
The steps as described by Hou and Kruk ,(1998 ) and Wikipedia encyclopedia ,(2011) are :-
a. Mixing: The ingredients such as flour ,starch ,water, salt or alkali salts, are mixed in a mixer for 10 – 15 mins.
b. Dough Resting: The dough after mixing, is left for 20 – 40mins to mature before compounding. The dough is rested in a container and stirred slowly to help the water penetrate the dough particles and for even distribution of the ingredients.
c. Sheeting/Compounding: The rested dough pieces are divided into two parties .Each is passed through a pair of sheeting rolls to form a noodle dough sheet. The two sheets are compounded and passed through a second set of sheeting rolls to form a single sheet with the dough thickness reduced between 20-40%.The process is repeated to develop gluten more easily as the sheet is folded and passed through the rollers several times. This will create the stringy and chewy texture found in instant noodles. The combined dough sheet is rested for about 1 hour.
d. Sheeting/Slitting/Waving: The dough sheet is passed through a series of 4-6 pairs of rolls with decreasing roll gaps. The final dough thickness is set on the calibration rolls according to noodle type. The sheet is cut into strands of desired width and length with a slitter and a cutter respectively.
e. Cooking: In making instant noodles, the wavy noodles stands are conveyed to a steamer to cook the noodles. Cooking processes include parboiling, boiling and steaming. Chinese wet noodles are parboiled for about 45-90 seconds to achieve 90% starch gelatinization. The noodles are then coated with 1-2% edible vegetable oil to prevent the stands from sticking together. They are usually re-cooked by boiling or stir-frying prior to consumption.
Japanese noodles are boiled for 10-15 minutes, rinsed and cooled in cooling water, steeped in dilute acidic water before packing and further steamed for more than 30 sec. in a pressurized steamer.
f. Noodle Drying : Drying can be achieved by air-drying, deep drying or vacuum drying. Air drying takes 5-8 hours to dry regular noodles and 30-40 minutes to dry steamed noodles. Drying by frying takes only a few minutes. it is a very fast process. Water vaporizes quickly from the surface of the noodles upon dipping into the hot oil .
The frying process decreases the moisture content from 30-50 % to 2-5 % . Common oils used are cotton seed and palm oil mixtures, only palm oil or palm olein . It takes 3-4 minutes to cook or soak instant fried noodles in hot water before consumption.
g. Cooling : Noodles are cooled before packaging with seasoning. The common packaging in Nigeria is the packaging with impermeable films with seasoning in small sachets inside. Many flavours that could be added are beef, chicken, pork e.t.c
There is a slight modification in the production of Dangote noodles. The steps are as presented below in Fig1.0. A process step called souping is introduced. At this point ,chicken soup prepared from frozen chicken are sprayed on the noodles to give it that chicken taste and flavor.
FIG 1.0 FLOW CHART FOR THE PRODUCTION OF DANGOTE NOODLES (Igwe,2008)
3.4 PRODUCT FORM
Noodle classification can also be based on the form of the product (oh, et al .,1983) .
Fresh:-. Noodle strands from rolls are cut and packaged. These fresh or raw noodles contain about 35% moisture. These are consumed within 24 hours of manufacture to avoid discoloration. They are usually thin which allows them to cook rapidly. These are made from strong flour that imparts a chewy texture when cooked. . Only about 2% of white salted noodles are sold fresh.
Boiled:- fresh noodles strands are either parboiled or fully cooked. Some such as Chinese wet and hokkien noodles are rinsed in cold water, drained, cooked with 1 – 2% red oil to prevent sticking. Hokkien noodles are alkaline noodles that are essentially sold as boiled noodles with 52% moisture content.
Steamed :- Fresh alkaline noodle strands are steamed and softened with water through rinsing or steeping. These are shaped and fried in oil at 140 – 150oC for 2 mins. Frying reduces the water content and gives the distinct flavor.
Dried:-Fresh noodle strands are dried by sunlight or in a controlled chamber to about 8 – 10% moisture. Highly purified flours are generally used to impart the desired colour and opacity. They have an extended shelf-life and retain their bright colour when stored. Most Japanese noodles are sold in this form.
4.0 NUTRITIONAL QUALITY OF NOODLES
Basically, Noodles are high in carbohydrates and fat but low in fibre, vitamins and minerals (Park et al., 2011). Typical instant noodle has 9% protein, 30% fat and 55% carbohydrate. The high carbohydrate and fat in noodles can leads to excessive intake of calories leading to obesity with associated diseases ( Ekene ,2010 ).
The main ingredient is flour, fat, the seasoning packet, some MSG, salt, grease, chili powder and some additives. MSG is a flavor enhancer and has been reported to have the potential of triggering allergic reactions such as burning sensations and headaches. The processes especially frying can lead to complete destruction of vitamin B ( Ekene ,2010 ).
Various nutrition disorders can be triggered with the low intake of vitamins and high intake of salt and other chemical seasonings (www.best-news.us).
Instant noodles also have high salt that can cause increase renal load or high blood pressure .Codex standards allow the use of 10,000 mg/kg of the chemical propylene glycol an antifreeze ingredient as humectants in instant noodles production. This is readily absorbed in the body system and can accumulate in the heart , liver, kidneys causing abnormalities (Wikipedia encyclopedia,2013)
Most importantly, instant noodles have been reported to be dangerous to children if eaten every day. The ability of children under five to absorb nutrients has been observed to be reduced after consuming instant noodles. Instant noodles packaging can also cause cancer ( Iva, 2013 ).
The presence of oxidation products resulting from poor maintenance of the oil used in frying is also a thing of concern. If the cooking oil is not maintained at the proper temperature or changed as often as necessary, these oxidation products that pose various health risks can be present in the foods .However, noodles especially instant forms as earlier observed have become popular among ready to eat meals in many parts of the world. Consequently, there have been a lot of improvements in their quality. Instant noodles recently are being fortified with vitamin A, Iron, zinc and iodine (Melse-Boonstra et al., 2000 and Acholonu ,2001).In rural Vietnam, Instant noodles have been found to be a suitable vehicle for iron fortification to improve iron deficiency anemia in primary school (Le et al ., 2007 ).In Phillipines, about 85% of the Instant noodles available in the market are now voluntarily fortified while 50 % are voluntarily fortified in Indonesia . In making the best of noodles in Nigeria, this paper therefore posits the following :
i Nutritional value and health benefits of instant noodles can be improved by incorporating some highly nutritive flours. Buckwheat flour is one of such. Buckwheat is very rich in fiber and protein and has also been reported to have probiotic qualities (Tina,2011).The fiber problem can also be ameliorated by the addition of barley flour and oat bran that have been reported to have a high level of β -Glucan (soluble fibre) (Gary, 2010 and Reungmaneepaitor et al .,2006) .
ii Fortification of noodles is a measure to be embraced by all stakeholders Instant noodles can be fortified with micronutrient or vitamin premixes. This can be achieved either by fortifying the flour used in making the noodles or by fortifying the seasoning. Fortificants may be introduced prior to the dough mixing step. However, choosing the appropriate form of fortificant is important to minimize nutrient-nutrient as well as nutrient- food interaction and any resulting adverse effects. Critical issues about stability, bioavailability and efficacy of the fortificants as well as the effectiveness of the intervention should also be addressed.
Iv Limiting the consumption of instant noodles to once in a week to prevent stomach ulcer or gastritis or any hazard associated with long consumption is advisable.
v The nutritional quality can also be improved by the addition of nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, carrots, cabbage ,and tomato or lean cuts of meat.
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