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Centre orders sampling test of spices from Everest, MDH after ban in Hong Kong, Singapore
Photo courtesy: Singapore's Food Agency website & Videograb

Centre orders sampling test of spices from Everest, MDH after ban in Hong Kong, Singapore

| @indiablooms | 22 Apr 2024, 08:55 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: After food regulator bodies in Hong Kong and Singapore red-flagged popular spice brands from India-Everest and MDH-over presence of a cancer-causing ingredient, the Centre has ordered food commissioners to collect samples of spices from all the manufacturing units in the country, media reports said.

"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," NDTV reported, quoting top government sources.

"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," they added.

The move comes after Singapore's Food Agency directed the importer of the spice in the country to recall the Everest Fish Curry Masala.

The Hong Kong and Singapore food regulators have warned people against using four products from these two spice brands 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.

"Ethylene oxide is a pesticide that is not authorised for use in food. It can be used to fumigate agricultural products to prevent microbial contamination. Under Singapore’s Food Regulations, ethylene oxide is allowed to be used in the sterilisation of spices," the statement had said.

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 “a pesticide, ethylene oxide", Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said on April 5.

The regulator instructed the vendors “to stop the sale and remove from shelves the affected products”.

The Singaporean food body said although there is no immediate risk to consumption of food contaminated with low levels of ethylene oxide, long-term exposure may lead to health issues.

"Therefore, exposure to this substance should be minimised as much as possible. Consumers who have purchased the implicated products are advised not to consume it. Those who have consumed the implicated products and have concerns about their health should seek medical advice. Consumers may contact their point of purchase for enquiries," the food body said.

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