Asia’s tussle with deadly lung infection SARS has altered food consumption patterns radically in some regions with instant noodle manufacturers announcing record sales since the outbreak.

“Eating out was a very important part of our lifestyle in China,” said Shanghai-based broadcaster Annie Yao. “But now I know many people who almost never go out, its bound to affect eating customs.”

Demand for home-consumed food has soared and there have been reports of mass panic buying of dried foodstuffs in some Chinese cities. Japan’s cup noodles and other instant foods manufacturer Nissin Food Products said it was increasing production in China and Hong Kong.