Updated May 22nd, 2024 at 13:09 IST

No Trace Of Ethylene Oxide In Samples Of MDH, Everest Spices: Food regulator FSSAI

The FSSAI has announced that extensive testing of spice samples across India has revealed no traces of ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing chemical.

Reported by: Digital Desk
FSSAI Finds No Trace Of Ethylene Oxide In Samples Of MDH | Image:X
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New Delhi: Following concerns raised by Hong Kong and Singapore regarding the quality of Indian spices, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced that it has not found any trace of ethylene oxide in samples of spices of two major brands MDH and Everest that were tested in 28 accredited laboratories. However, reports from six other laboratories are still pending.

Earlier last month, the food safety authorities in India started taking samples of spices in powder form of all brands, including MDH and Everest, from across the country in view of quality concerns flagged by Hong Kong and Singapore.

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The Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety (CFS) had asked consumers not to buy certain spice mix products of MDH and Everest, citing the presence of ethylene oxide beyond the permissible limit. These products are MDH's Madras Curry Powder, Everest Fish Curry Masala, MDH Sambhar Masala Mixed Masala Powder, and MDH Curry Powder Mixed Masala Powder.

According to sources, a pan India drive was initiated on April 22 through all the commissioners of food safety of states and Union Territories and regional directors of FSSAI. Under this initiative, 34 samples of Everest and MDH spices were collected for testing. Specifically, 9 samples from Everest's facilities in Maharashtra and Gujarat, and 25 samples from MDH's facilities in Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan were analysed. The comprehensive testing process covered a range of quality and safety parameters, including moisture content, insect and rodent contamination, heavy metals, aflatoxins, pesticide residues, and various microbiological contaminants. It also included extensive inspections of the spice manufacturing units and also sampling and testing of products manufactured for sale and distribution for consumption in the domestic market.

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The laboratory reports received so far were examined by the scientific panel at FSSAI and observed that the samples showed no traces of ethylene oxide, sources said.

Similarly, test reports of over 300 samples of spices of other brands were also examined by the scientific panel and those also conclusively indicated no presence of ethylene oxide, they added.

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The scientific panel comprises eminent scientists from the Spice Board, CSMCRI (Gujarat), Indian Spice Research Institute (Kerala), NIFTEM (Haryana), BARC (Mumbai), CMPAP (Lucknow), DRDO (Assam), ICAR, National Research Centre on Grapes, (Pune).

In light of these findings, the FSSAI reassures consumers about the safety of spices available in the Indian market. Moreover, the Spice Board has issued updated guidelines for spice exporters regarding the use of ETO as a fumigant to comply with the microbial contamination standards of importing countries.

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Ethylene oxide is used to sterilise spices but can pose health risks, including cancer, if the residue exceeds safe levels. This level differs by country, which complicates matters for exporters.

The Spices Board of India's mandate for ethylene oxide testing aims to ensure that Indian spices meet these diverse international standards, protecting consumer health and maintaining market access.

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Published May 22nd, 2024 at 13:09 IST