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Falling standards: Spice Board of India inspects MDH, Everest brands

Falling standards: Spice Board of India inspects MDH, Everest brands


New Delhi: To check and ensure that spice exports are meeting international standards, the Spices Board of India initiated inspections at MDH and Everest processing plants, The Wire reported.

The body’s action happened after Honk Kong’s warning early last month that consumption of certain products must be checked since the presence of ethylene oxide (EtO) was detected in them. Honk Kong’s flagging had led to Singapore recalling Everest’s fish curry masala on the 18th of last month, citing similar reasons.

According to a report by The Indian Express, the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Monday (May 21) showed that Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) levels for EtO in Singapore were 50 mg/kg, while it stood at 0.02 to 0.01 mg/kg in the European Union and 0.01 in Japan. The comparable number for the US and Canada was 7 mg/kg. EtO is prohibited from being used in food products in Hong Kong. A senior official told the news house that In 2023-24, 99.8 per cent of around 1.4 million tonnes of spices had met the quality requirements of different countries, and only 0.2 per cent of all consignments were non-compliant. On the other hand, 0.73 per cent of imported food consignments were non-compliant.

According to officials, EtO is a common fumigant in food and pharmaceuticals, becoming harmful only if not properly aerated, leading to 2-chloroethanol formation.

There is no global consensus on EtO residue levels, and regulations and testing methods vary from country to country.

An official said that international standards (CODEX) set by the World Trade Organization say MRL levels are 1, and India is largely aligned with CODEX.

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