Noodle 'chef' machines get all-clear

A noodle cooking machine, a new catering model in the city which was called a halt in October by authorities for operation beyond scope has obtained license and resumed operation.
Noodle 'chef' machines get all-clear
Chen Xihan

Two officials with Hongkou Market Supervision and Management Bureau check the business license and food operation license of the noodle machines. 

Operations of a new type of noodle vending machine — which automatically boils the food and which were suspended in October because the operator did not have the correct paperwork — have resumed.

The machines, known as “Yo-Kai Express”, can automatically boil and serve a bowl of noodles in 45 seconds, after customers select their flavor and pay digitally. Prices range from 12.8-15.8 yuan (US$2-2.50).

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration shut down the three machines in Xuhui and Hongkou districts because the company was only licensed to sell prepackaged but the machines involved cooking.

The administration worked with the company, Shanghai Ludou Catering Management Co Ltd, to help it resume operations.

Noodle 'chef' machines get all-clear
Chen Xihan

The machines, known as "Yo-Kai Express", can automatically boil and serve a bowl of noodles in 45 seconds, after customers select flavors and make a digital payment.

It hosted several rounds of expert evaluations and testing on the food safety of noodles cooked by the vending machines, covering every aspect from ingredients to pipelines, heating, cleaning and plasticizer leakage from containers. The company also set up a station to wash and disinfect components and parts.

It took more than three months for risk evaluation and another three months for the license for the washing and disinfection center.

The company also established a timetable for cleaning and disinfecting of different parts. It is the only licensed operator of such machines in Shanghai.

Noodle 'chef' machines get all-clear
Chen Xihan

A worker cleans the component of the noodle machine. 

"We will conduct regular inspections on the cleaning and disinfection of the machines, particularly targeting the cleanness of components and parts," said Wu Cheng, an official with the Guangzhong market supervision and management office in Hongkou, where the company is located. One of the machines is inside a creative industrial park in Hongkou.

"These noodles are more delicious than instant noodles, and the cooking process and payment is very efficient," said Nancy Chen, an office worker who bought a bowl of tonkotsu ramen.

"We don't have canteen here," she said.

About 30 to 50 Yo-Kai Express machines will be set up citywide by September.

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