Economy & Business

    Spices Board examining Singapore,Hong Kong ban on MDH & Everest products over quality concern

    The Hawk
    April22/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Investigations underway as Hong Kong and Singapore impose bans on Indian spice products due to ethylene oxide contamination. Spices Board of India reacts, promising scrutiny while MDH and Everest brands face recall orders.

    MDH & Everest product

    New Delhi: Spices Board of India on Monday said that it is looking into the ban imposed by Hong Kong and Singapore on the sale of four spices-mix products of Indian brands MDH and Everest, which allegedly contain pesticide 'ethylene oxide' beyond permissible limits.

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

    "We are looking into the matter. We are at it," Spices Board of India Director A B Rema Shree told PTI.

    The companies could not be contacted immediately.

    In its April 5 statement, the Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety (CFS) said that the samples of several kinds of pre-packaged spice-mix products of two Indian brands were found to contain a pesticide, ethylene oxide.

    These products are MDH's Madras Curry Powder (Spice blend for Madras Curry), Everest Fish Curry Masala, MDH Sambhar Masala Mixed Masala Powder, MDH Curry Powder Mixed Masala Powder.

    "Investigations are ongoing," CFS said.

    Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Authority has directed 'members of the public should not consume the affected products. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected products immediately if they possess any of them', the statement said.

    The CFS collected the samples from three retail outlets in Tsim Sha Tsui, respectively for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. "The test results showed that the samples contained a pesticide, ethylene oxide," a CFS spokesperson said in a statement.

    The CFS has informed the vendors concerned of the irregularities and instructed them to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected products, it added.

    According to the CFS's directive, the distributors and importers concerned have initiated recalls on the affected products. CFS said that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified 'ethylene oxide' as a Group 1 carcinogen.

    CFS said that an offender who sells food items containing pesticide residue beyond permissable limits is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

    After Hong Kong's directive, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) also ordered a recall of imported 'Everest Fish Curry Masala' from India and the recall is ongoing.

    "The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong has issued a notification on the recall of Everest Fish Curry Masala from India due to the presence of ethylene oxide at levels exceeding permissible limit," SFA said in a statement last week. 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.