Ban on MDH, Everest products: Spices Board orders testing of exports

Ministry seeks details from the two firms whose products have been banned for allegedly containing ethylene oxide beyond permissible limits

Representative image
Representative image


With certain spices from Indian brands MDH and Everest facing a ban in Singapore and Hong Kong owing to quality concerns, the Spices Board on 24 April said it would start mandatory testing of such consignments destined for these two countries.

The board, under the Union commerce ministry, also said it is working with exporters whose consignments have been recalled in order to find out the root cause and suggest corrective measures. Thorough inspections at exporter facilities are underway to ensure adherence to regulatory standards, the board said.

The Spices Board has held an industry consultation and put in systems to start mandatory ethylene oxide residue (ETO) testing of spice consignments destined for Singapore and Hong Kong.

"The Board is working with the exporters whose consignments have been recalled to ascertain the root cause of the issue and propose corrective measures," it added.

It was reported that the recall was prompted by heightened scrutiny surrounding ETO, a sterilising agent used in food materials.

Spices Board, as the regulatory authority overseeing the export promotion of spices from India, is taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spices meant for exports.

"Upholding its commitment to food safety and quality, the board had established stringent protocols and guidelines for ETO residue," the Spices Board said in a statement.

India, the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices, has already sought details from food safety regulators of Singapore and Hong Kong, which has banned certain spices of MDH and Everest owing to quality concerns.

The commerce ministry has also directed Indian embassies in both Singapore and Hong Kong to send a detailed report on the matter. Besides, the ministry has sought details from the two firms — MDH and Everest — whose products have been banned for allegedly containing the pesticide ethylene oxide beyond permissible limits.

Spices Board said it has also mobilised efforts to gather technical information, analytical reports, and exporter data from relevant authorities in both countries. "The Board is in touch with Indian missions in Singapore and Hong Kong to get more information and official notification," it added.

Additionally, Spices Board is issuing an advisory circular to raise awareness among the export community regarding ETO contamination and providing comprehensive guidelines.

Recognising the importance of global parameters in food safety, the board is updating and making available detailed information on regulations on ETO from various countries to the exporters and public. Spice consignments to other countries will also be strictly monitored for the presence of ETO, it added.

Spices Board's NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories)-accredited laboratories are equipped and ready to test ETO contamination in spice consignments for exports.

"This proactive approach underscores the Board's commitment towards ensuring consumer health and safety along with upholding the reputation of Indian spice brands worldwide," it said.

The food safety regulator of Hong Kong has asked consumers not to buy these products and traders not to sell, while the Singapore Food Agency has directed a recall of the products.

In the 2022-23 fiscal, the country exported spices worth nearly Rs 32,000 crore. Chilli, cumin, spice oil and oleoresins, turmeric, curry powder and cardamom are the major exports.

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