India: investigation launched following discovery of ethylene oxide in spices

Indian authorities have taken action to address concerns over the presence of potentially carcinogenic substances in spices, sparking investigations and tests within the industry. The decision comes after four popular spice blends, manufactured by renowned Indian companies MDH and Everest, were banned in Hong Kong and Singapore due to the detection of ethylene oxide gas. This gas, commonly used for sterilizing surgical instruments, appears to have found its way into the agricultural sector in India.    

Exposure to ethylene oxide has been linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including lymphomas and leukemias, due to its damaging effects on DNA.    

The four banned products in Singapore and Hong Kong are also exported worldwide, raising concerns globally. Of particular concern is MDH Group, as the United States Food and Drug Administration has rejected 31% of its products in the past six months due to the presence of Salmonella.    

While the local media has shown limited interest in the matter, the spice scandal could have significant implications for India, especially if the lucrative Chinese market follows the steps taken by authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore.    

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has initiated tests and inspections within the spice industry to address the issue promptly. It is crucial to ensure the safety and quality of spices, safeguarding public health and maintaining consumer confidence in Indian spice products. The authorities are determined to rectify the situation and prevent any further risks associated with the presence of potentially harmful substances.    

This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of stringent food safety regulations and continuous monitoring to protect consumers from potential health hazards. The Indian spice industry must prioritize safety and ensure adherence to international standards, rebuilding trust and maintaining its reputation as a global leader in the spice market.        



The Economic Times