1. Home
  2. English
  3. MDH, Everest Spices Row: Government Orders Checking All Spices for Banned Substances
MDH, Everest Spices Row: Government Orders Checking All Spices for Banned Substances

MDH, Everest Spices Row: Government Orders Checking All Spices for Banned Substances

Social Share

NEW DELHI, Apr 22: After Singapore and Hong Kong governments red-flagged some spices manufactured by two popular Indian brands and ordered their recall from market for containing some cacogenic elements, the Indian government has asked the food commissioners to collect samples of spices from all the manufacturing units in the country.

“All the food commissioners of the country have been alerted. The process of collecting samples of spices has been started. The order has been given. In three to four days, samples will be collected from all the spice manufacturing units of the country,” top government sources said on Monday.

The food regulators in Hong Kong and Singapore and warned people against using four products of two popular Indian spices manufacturing brands, MDH and Everest, over the alleged presence of ethylene oxide at “levels exceeding the permissible limit.” Ethylene oxide has been classified as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“Not just MDH and Everest, samples will be taken from all the spice manufacturing companies. The report will come from the lab in about 20 days,” the sources said.

The Hong Kong and Singapore food regulators have banned three spice products of MDH — Madras Curry Powder (spice blend for Madras Curry), Sambhar Masala (Mixed Masala Powder), and Curry Powder (Mixed Masala Powder) — along with Everest’s Fish Curry Masala contain claiming the products contained “a pesticide, ethylene oxide.” Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) instructed the vendors “to stop the sale and remove from shelves the affected products.”

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) also ordered a recall of Everest’s Fish Curry Masala due to the presence of ethylene oxide at levels “exceeding the permissible limit.” The SFA posted a release on its website on April 18 that said it “has directed the importer, Sp Muthiah & Sons Pte. Ltd., to recall the products. The recall is ongoing.”

There is a ban on using ethylene oxide in food items in India. “Strict action will be taken if harmful substances are found in Indian spices. There is a provision for criminal proceedings also,” the sources said. The government has appealed to the Spices Board, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to spread awareness that no harmful elements should be added to the products.

The board has said it was looking into the ban imposed by Hong Kong and Singapore on the sale of four spices-mix products of Indian brands. “We are looking into the matter. We are at it,” Spices Board of India Director AB Rema Shree said.

The sources insisted that they had been testing samples even before the incidents in Hong Kong and Singapore and claimed, “So far, no harmful elements have been found in the spices of different brands available in the Indian market.”

“This is a continuous process of sampling. This time we will take samples more quickly and in greater numbers than whatever samples we were taking earlier,” they said. The Spices Board defines ethylene oxide as a “flammable, colourless gas at temperatures above 10.7 Celsius. It serves as a “disinfectant, fumigant, sterilising agent and insecticide.”

It is mainly used to sterilise medical equipment and to reduce microbial contamination in spices. Besides being produced from natural sources, it can also be generated from water-logged soil, manure, and sewage sludge.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies ethylene oxide as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’, meaning it has “enough evidence to conclude that it can cause cancer in humans.”

Short-term exposure to the carcinogen can affect the human central nervous system, and cause depression and irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes but prolonged exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and damage the brain and nervous system, as per the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

(Manas Dasgupta)



Your email address will not be published.

Join our WhatsApp Channel

And stay informed with the latest news and updates.

Join Now
revoi whats app qr code