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Business News/ Companies / News/  FSSAI to inspect samples of spices and infant food pan-India
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FSSAI to inspect samples of spices and infant food pan-India

The move follows two separate reports of alleged food violations by brands in spices and infant nutrition categories.

FSSAI has deployed state food commissioners and issued orders for samples of major spice brands to be taken from their manufacturing units pan-India.Premium
FSSAI has deployed state food commissioners and issued orders for samples of major spice brands to be taken from their manufacturing units pan-India.

NEW DELHI:India's top food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), will conduct sampling of major spice and infant nutrition brands in India, a senior government official said requesting anonymity. The move follows two separate reports of alleged food violations by brands in spices and infant nutrition categories.

FSSAI has deployed state food commissioners and issued orders for samples of major spice brands to be taken from their manufacturing units pan-India, the official said. These samples will be sent to accredited testing labs to detect pesticide ethylene oxide.

Samples of spices from India were found to have more than permissible level of ethylene oxide in some overseas markets recently.

Also Read: FSSAI to probe allegations of high sugar in Nestlé's baby food

On 5 April, Hong Kong banned three MDH and one Everest-branded spice powder after the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region found the presence of ethylene oxide in several spice mixes. The pesticide was found in three spice mixes from MDH Group—Madras curry powder, sambhar masala powder, and curry powder mixed masala powder.

Then, last week, the Singapore Food Agency recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala from India due to the presence of ethylene oxide at levels exceeding permissible limit. Ethylene oxide is not authorised for use in food, Singapore Food Agency said in a statement.

“Although there is no immediate risk to consumption of food contaminated with low levels of ethylene oxide, long-term exposure may lead to health issues. Therefore, exposure to this substance should be minimized as much as possible," the agency said.


Also Read: Health drinks under scanner may lose customer love

“In the domestic market, action has been initiated already," the official mentioned above said. "The food authority has directed state food commissioners to lift samples from the market. If they are found to be in violation or if strains of ethylene oxide are found, then there will be stringent action against those brands."  

Samples will be collected from all major spice makers in India, including Everest and MDH, as well as regional players, and sent for testing. The food regulator has also alerted the Spice Board of India. “This is to ensure general awareness around the usage of pesticides in packaged spices," the official added.

Sample collection and testing could take 20 days, said the official.

Meanwhile, following reports of presence of added sugars in Nestlé’sCerelac brand of baby cereals, the regulator has also initiated collection of samples of multiple infant nutrition brands sold in the market to test for added sugars. 


The move follows an investigation by Public Eye, a Swiss investigative organization, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), which claimed that all Cerelac baby cereal products sold by Nestle in India contain added sugar—on average nearly 3 gm per serving. 


“While the findings are global, we have to see if they violate our local rules," the person added.

To be sure, India’s food regulator permits use of lactose and glucose polymers as “preferred carbohydrates" for food for infant nutrition.

“Sucrose and/or fructose shall not be added, unless needed as a carbohydrate source, and provided the sum of these does not exceed 20 per cent of total carbohydrate," per the Food Safety and Standards (Foods for Infant Nutrition) Regulations, 2020.

FSSAI will sample and test multiple brands of infant nutrition being sold in the market.


Meanwhile, Nestlé India has maintained that its products manufactured in India are in “full and strict compliance" with global food standards and local specifications pertaining to the requirements of all nutrients—including added sugars.

“Compliance is an essential characteristic of Nestlé India and we will never compromise on that. We also ensure that our products manufactured in India are in full and strict compliance with CODEX standards (a commission established by WHO and FAO) and local specifications (as required) pertaining to the requirements of all nutrients including added sugars," a company spokesperson said in a statement released last week.

Over the past five years, the company has reduced added sugars by up to 30%, across its infant cereal range, depending on the variant, the spokesperson said.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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Published: 22 Apr 2024, 09:06 PM IST
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