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Business News/ Companies / News/  MDH, Everest row: Why top Indian spice brands are under scanner abroad? Explained
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MDH, Everest row: Why top Indian spice brands are under scanner abroad? Explained

MDH, Everest masala row: After Hong Kong and Singapore, the US customs has rejected 31% of MDH products in six months over salmonella contamination. Spice manufacturing companies in a spot after authorities in US, Hong Kong and Singapore raised rejected shipments and ordered recall of some products.

MDH, Everest controversy: Nearly 31 per cent of MDH products have been refused in the United States since October because of salmonella contamination.Premium
MDH, Everest controversy: Nearly 31 per cent of MDH products have been refused in the United States since October because of salmonella contamination.

MDH and Everest, masala brands that spices up kitchens across India--the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices--are now under scanner in overseas markets including the US, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Started in 1919 and 1967 respectively, MDH and Everest have wooed consumers abroad with their  exotic flavors, but these spice manufacturing companies find themselves in a spot after authorities in the aforementioned countries raised objections, rejected shipments and ordered recall of some products.

Why MDH, Everest are under scanner? 

Indian spice makers MDH and Everest have come under scanner after Hong Kong and Singapore banned their spices due to “quality concerns". The health authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong found cancer-causing pesticide “ethylene oxide" in these masalas above the acceptable limits. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified ethylene oxide as a major carcinogen. Foods containing pesticide residues are subject to stringent checks according to food safety regulations. A spokesperson of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Hong Kong, said violators may be subject to a $50,000 fine and six months in jail.

Following the clamp down on these spices brands abroad, India's top food regulator the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has decided to conduct sampling of MDH and Everest spices. The commerce ministry has also directed Indian embassies in both Singapore and Hong Kong and the spice makers to send a detailed report on the matter.

Besides Hong Kong and Singapore, the US custom authorities have also rejected around 31% of the MDH products in the last six months. Since October 2023, the refusal rate of MDH shipments have more than doubled to 31% from 15%, mainly due to salmonella contamination. 

The number is equivalent to one-third of all shipments from MDH products categorised as “spices, flavours, and salts", The Indian Express reported, referring to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data.

MDH, Everest say spices are ‘safe’

Soon after the controversy over ‘quality concerns’ erupted, MDH said its products are safe for consumption, and the company has not received any communication from regulators and authorities in Hong Kong or Singapore about the reported contamination in its products.

"We reassure our buyers and consumers that we do not use ethylene oxide at any stage of storing, processing, or packing our spices," MDH said in an official statement on Sunday. 

It further stated that India's FSSAI and Spices Board have not received any communication or test report from authorities in Hong Kong or Singapore. Hence, the allegations against MDH are baseless, unsubstantiated, and not backed by any concrete evidence, it added. 

Everest has also previously said its spices are safe for consumption.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 29 Apr 2024, 11:41 AM IST
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