New Delhi: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has started investigation and will take action against several branded spice makers including MDH and Everest soon, said a senior official after health officials in Rajasthan found pesticides and insecticides beyond permissible limit. The action could range anywhere between levying a penalty to recalling products.

The state had written to the food authority requesting action against several brands of spices stating that they were unsafe for consumption due to higher levels of pesticides and insecticides.

“While there was not ETO (ethylene oxide) found in the tests (done by Rajasthan) some insecticides and contaminants were present beyond permissible limit, ” said a senior official adding that the authority will take action according to the ‘rule book’ after analysing the reports.

Just last month, the food regulator gave a clean chit to the two leading brands after conducting a nationwide crackdown on spices of all brands and found them safe.

The crackdown was conducted after Singapore and Hong Kong suspended sale of certain spice blends of two top-selling Indian brands — MDH and Everest — citing high levels of ETO, a pesticide considered unfit for human consumption and a cancer risk after long exposure.

“Out of 34 reports, 28 reports show no traces of ethylene oxide,” said sources in the food authority, adding that the lab reports were examined by the scientific panel at the FSSAI and it has observed that they showed no trace of ETO.

The FSSAI had picked up nine samples of Everest from two of its facilities in Maharashtra and Gujarat and 25 samples from 11 manufacturing units of MDH, last month after Singapore and Hong Kong suspended sale of these spices.

Each of the 300 samples were analysed for compliance with quality parameters like moisture, live and dead insects, insect fragments, rodent contamination, volatile oil content, ash, acid insoluble ash, safety parameters, such as heavy metals, aflatoxins, melamine, pesticide residues (230 pesticide residues), microbiological presence, additives, sulfites, added colour, coal tar dyes, the authority had said before declaring them safe for consumption.

Spices are an important export item from India. Last fiscal, India’s spice exports totalled $4.25 billion, accounting for a 12 per cent share of global spice exports, according to economic think tank Global Trade Research Initiative.

  • Published On Jun 15, 2024 at 10:20 AM IST

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