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India implements measures to prevent carcinogenic contamination in spice exports

India has taken steps to prevent ethylene oxide (EtO) contamination in its spice exports, following recalls of MDH and Everest spices in Singapore and Hong Kong due to EtO residues. Measures include mandatory testing of consignments to these countries, inspections of processing facilities, and sample testing by a techno-scientific committee.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 15, 2024, 07:48 AM - 2 mins read

India implements measures to prevent carcinogenic contamination in spice exports

India implements measures to prevent carcinogenic contamination in spice exports

In food products, there are a certain degree of failure of samples that happen and India's sample failure is less than 1 per cent.


India has implemented several measures to prevent ethylene oxide (EtO), a carcinogenic chemical, from contaminating spices exported from the country, Amardeep Singh Bhatia, Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry, announced on Wednesday.

 

This follows recalls of products from two Indian spice brands in Singapore and Hong Kong due to EtO residue found in MDH and Everest spices.

 

To address the issue, the Spices Board has mandated testing of all consignments destined for these two countries. A techno-scientific committee has conducted a root cause analysis, inspected processing facilities, and collected samples for testing in accredited labs.

 

“In response to the committee's recommendations, mandatory sampling and testing for EtO residues has been implemented for all spice shipments to Singapore and Hong Kong starting May 7, 2024,” Bhatia said. Guidelines for EtO treatment have also been reiterated to exporters.

 

India is advocating for the Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs (CCSCH) to establish limits for EtO usage, noting that different countries have varying regulations. Additionally, India has proposed standardizing EtO testing procedures.

 

The CCSCH, formed in 2013 with the support of over 100 countries, aims to develop and expand worldwide standards for spices and culinary herbs, consulting with other international organizations in the process.

 

India’s spice exports in 2023-24 totaled USD 4.25 billion, representing 12 percent of global spice exports.

 

The leading export was chili powder at USD 1.3 billion, followed by cumin at USD 550 million, turmeric at USD 220 million, cardamom at USD 130 million, mixed spices at USD 110 million, and spice oils and oleoresins at USD 1 billion.

 

Other significant exports included asafoetida, saffron, anise, nutmeg, mace, clove, and cinnamon.

 

The Spices Board has issued comprehensive guidelines to exporters to prevent EtO contamination amid quality concerns flagged by certain countries. Despite these concerns, the failure rate of India’s spice samples remains below 1 percent.

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