Updated May 16th, 2024 at 22:13 IST

UK food regulator confirms extra measures to monitor spices' supply from India

The UKFSA reaffirmed its existing early warning system for monitoring maximum residue levels of ethylene oxide.

Reported by: Business Desk
भारत से निर्यात होने वाले मसालें | Image:Shutterstock
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UK's sensor on spices: The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said that the country has since the last one year, reined in additional control measures for pesticide residues in spices imported from India. The UKFSA's reaffirming systems of checks and balances in imports of spices has come after recent reports suggesting that new steps were recently implemented.

The FSA emphasised its existing early warning system (EWS) for monitoring maximum residue levels of ethylene oxide (ETO), a banned food contaminant in the UK, in various spices from India since early last year.

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Amidst concerns over ETO levels leading to bans on certain Indian spices in Hong Kong and Singapore, Natasha Smith, Deputy Director of Food Policy at the FSA said, “Earlier this year, we applied extra control measures for pesticide residues in spices from India, including ethylene oxide.” 

She reiterated that the use of ETO is prohibited in the UK and that stringent maximum residue levels are enforced for herbs and spices. “If there is any unsafe food on the market, the FSA will take rapid action to ensure consumer protection,” Smith added.

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UK's alert on pathogens 

The use of ETO to control pathogens such as salmonella, is not allowed in the UK. The FSA has been issuing early warning alerts for ETO in Indian spices since before January 2023, via monthly EWS notifications to enforcement officers at UK ports and local authorities. These alerts prompt officers to conduct surveillance sampling for ETO, potentially leading to amendments in UK official controls legislation.

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The FSA emphasised that food businesses are responsible for ensuring their products are safe and compliant. If commodities exceed maximum residue levels, businesses must assess and take corrective action. The agency regularly reviews controls on imported high-risk food and feed to ensure consumer safety.

India, one of the world's leading spice producers, exported over 200 spices and value-added products worth USD 4 billion to 180 countries in 2021-22, according to the Spices Board of India.

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In response to Singapore and Hong Kong halting sales of MDH and Everest spices over suspected elevated ETO levels, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has begun examining the quality of powdered spices from various brands in the country.

(With Reuters inputs) 

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Published May 16th, 2024 at 22:11 IST