The Indian government has launched inquiries with food safety regulators in Singapore and Hong Kong after these countries banned certain spices from Indian brands MDH and Everest over quality concerns. The Ministry of Commerce has instructed Indian embassies in both nations to submit detailed reports on the issue, news agency PTI reported. The ministry has requested information from MDH and Everest regarding alleged excess levels of the pesticide ‘ethylene oxide’ in their products.

An official from the commerce ministry stated that investigations will determine the root cause of the rejection and corrective actions needed. Details have also been sought from the Singapore Food Agency and Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety and Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. The ministry plans an industry consultation on mandatory ethylene oxide testing for spice shipments to these countries. Meanwhile, the Spices Board of India is investigating the ban by Hong Kong and Singapore on four spice-mix products from MDH and Everest.

India is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices. In 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 major spices exported.

Everest says masalas “Not Banned”
Everest Food Products reassured consumers on Tuesday amidst concerns over the quality of one of its spice-mix products flagged by Singapore and Hong Kong. The company affirmed the safety and high quality of all its products, emphasizing that Everest is not banned in either country. They clarified that only one out of their 60 products is under examination, which is a standard procedure, not a ban.

A company spokesperson reiterated that their products undergo rigorous quality control checks and are cleared for export only after approval from the laboratories of the Spice Board of India.

The statement comes after Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety found pesticide ‘ethylene oxide’ beyond permissible limits in samples of certain spice-mix products, prompting a recall directed by the Singapore Food Agency. The affected products include Everest Fish Curry Masala and MDH’s Madras Curry Powder, Sambhar Masala, and Curry Powder.

MTNews Desk

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