Spices Crisis: Now Nepal Imposes Ban On Everest, MDH Masala; Initiates Ethylene Oxide Testing

In response to elevated levels of ethylene oxide detected in Indian spice brands Everest and MDH, Japan has prohibited their import, consumption, and sale. This action follows Nepal’s initiation of testing for ethylene oxide levels in these products, as confirmed by an official from Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control.

The ban on Everest and MDH spices in Nepal was prompted by reports of traces of harmful chemicals in these products. Mohan Krishna Maharjan, spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, stated that the import ban was imposed a week earlier, and sales of the banned spices in the market have also been prohibited.

Tests are currently underway to determine the chemical composition of spices from these two brands, and the ban will remain in place until the final report is released. The decision to ban these spices aligns with similar actions taken by Hong Kong and Singapore, reinforcing the concerns raised about the safety of these products.

Ethylene oxide (EtO) usage standards vary across different countries, ranging from 0.73 per cent to as high as 7 per cent, according to government sources cited in the report. There is a growing emphasis on establishing a universal standard for EtO utilization to ensure consumer safety and quality standards in spice products globally. It is worth noting that the banned spices constitute less than one per cent of India’s overall spice exports.

In response to these developments, the Spice Board of India has initiated measures to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spice exports to affected regions. The board has implemented recommendations from the Techno-Scientific Committee, conducting root cause analyses, inspecting processing facilities, and collecting samples for testing at accredited laboratories.

Moreover, the Spice Board has facilitated stakeholder consultations involving over 130 exporters and associations, including the All India Spices Exporters Forum and the Indian Spice and Foodstuff Exporters’ Association. Guidelines for ethylene oxide treatment have been disseminated to all exporters, aimed at preventing ethylene oxide contamination in spices exported from India.

These proactive measures underscore India’s commitment to upholding stringent safety and quality standards in its spice exports, ensuring consumer confidence and adherence to international regulations. As investigations and tests continue, stakeholders remain vigilant in addressing any potential risks to public health and maintaining the integrity of India’s spice industry on the global stage.

News Bureau
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