Ready to start mandatory testing for exports to Hong Kong and Singapore, says Spices Board

The board said it has also begun gathering technical information, analytical reports and exporter data following reports that the two countries recalled Indian spice mixes over concerns of contamination with a cancer-causing pesticide.

Suneera Tandon
First Published25 Apr 2024
Hong Kong banned three MDH spice power brands and one Everest brand on 5 April, and the Singapore Food Agency recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala last week. Photo: Pexels
Hong Kong banned three MDH spice power brands and one Everest brand on 5 April, and the Singapore Food Agency recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala last week. Photo: Pexels

Mumbai: The Spices Board of India said it is ready to begin mandatory testing for spice consignments destined for Singapore and Hong Kong following reports that the two countries have recalled Indian spice mixes over concerns of contamination with ethylene oxide (ETO), a cancer-causing pesticide. It has also kicked off efforts to gather technical information, analytical reports and exporter data from relevant authorities  on the issue, it said in a statement on Thursday. 

A regulatory body under the commerce ministry that develops, promotes and regulates the export of various spices and spice products, the board said on Thursday it has stringent protocols and guidelines for dealing with ETO residue.

Also read: FSSAI to inspect samples of spices and infant food pan-India

“The board convened an industry consultation and has put in systems to commence mandatory ETO testing in spice consignments destined for Singapore and Hong Kong. Spice consignments to other countries will also be strictly monitored for the presence of ETO. Spices Board’s NABL-accredited laboratories are equipped and ready to test for ETO contamination… This proactive approach underscores the board's commitment to ensuring consumer health and safety along with upholding the reputation of Indian spice brands worldwide,” it said.

It added, “The board is in touch with Indian missions in Singapore and Hong Kong to get more information and an official notification. [It] is working with exporters whose consignments have been recalled to ascertain the root cause of the issue and propose corrective measures. Thorough inspections at exporter facilities are also underway to ensure adherence with regulatory standards."

Also read: Everest says spice mixes are ‘safe for consumption' after regulator order in Singapore, ban in Hong Kong

Recalls in Hong Kong, Singapore

Earlier this month, samples of spices from India were found to have more than the permissible level of ETO in some overseas markets. On 5 April, Hong Kong banned three MDH spice power brands and one Everest brand after its Centre for Food Safety (CFS) found ETO in several spice mixes. Then last week, the Singapore Food Agency recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala owing to the presence of ETO beyond the permissible limit.

Mint reported earlier this week that India's top food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has asked state food commissioners to collect samples of major spice brands from their manufacturing units across India to test for presence of ETO.

Additionally, the Spices Board is issuing an advisory circular to raise awareness among exporters about ETO contamination and to provide comprehensive guidelines. 

Also read: India to get a National Turmeric Board

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