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Business News/ News / World/  US says treatment of spices with ethylene oxide is 'safe' as Hong Kong, Singapore ban some MDH, Everest products
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US says treatment of spices with ethylene oxide is 'safe' as Hong Kong, Singapore ban some MDH, Everest products

MDH, Everest row: The American Spice Trade Association has said ethylene oxide – reportedly found in some products of MDH and Everest brands – is currently permitted for use on spices in the US.

MDH and Everest products are hugely popular in India. (AP)Premium
MDH and Everest products are hugely popular in India. (AP)

The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) on Friday informed in a letter that both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have concluded that consumption of spices treated with ethylene oxide (ETO) is safe. The statement came after Hong Kong and Singapore took action against several spice variants manufactured by Indian spice brands MDH and Everest Food Products.

Hong Kong had last month suspended sales of three spice blends made by MDH – Madras Curry Powder, Sambhar Masala Mixed Masala Powder and Curry Powder Mixed Masala Powder –  and an Everest spice mix for fish curry. Singapore ordered a recall of the same Everest mix as well, flagging high levels of ethylene oxide, which is unfit for human consumption and a cancer risk with long exposure.

According to reports, the health authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong found cancer-causing pesticide “ethylene oxide" in these masalas above the acceptable limits.

US spice body offers clarification

On Friday, the US spice body ASTA wrote to Spices Board of India Secretary Dr KG Jagadeesha, offering clarification on the recent reports about ethylene oxide usage in spices exported to the US.

It said, "The American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) has become aware of recent media reports on the rejection of Indian spices from Singapore and Hong Kong due to the presence of ethylene oxide (ETO) residues."

"In light of these recent developments, we are reaching out to offer clarification on ETO and food safety regulations pertaining to spices imported into the United States," news agency ANI reported, citing the letter.

The letter added that the ethylene oxide is currently permitted for use on spices in the US "and prohibiting this critical treatment method has the potential to result in serious unintended implications regarding compliance of Indian spices with US food safety regulations."

It said ethylene oxide is an approved antimicrobial fumigant in the US. "Moreover, both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have concluded that consumption of spices treated with EtO is safe," ASTA's letter read.

MDH and Everest products are hugely popular in India. They are also sold in Europe, Asia and North America. '

According to Reuters, the companies refuted allegations and said they are safe.

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

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

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Published: 10 May 2024, 04:33 PM IST
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