Indian spices deemed “carcinogenic”, in the sights of international authorities

“A crisis of confidence hits Indian spice export industry”, underlines The Hindu. At issue: several complaints revealing the presence of ethylene oxide, a toxic chemical used as a food stabilizer, at doses considered carcinogenic. Two industry giants are blamed: MDH and Everest.

Food regulators in Hong Kong and Singapore published information last April advising citizens not to consume certain spices of Indian origin, explain Times of India.

Burned consumers

“But it doesn’t stop there,” continues the BBC. Because the United States and the European Union have also sounded the alarm: “An analysis of US regulatory data (…) revealed that, since 2021, an average of 14.5% of US imports of MDH spices have been rejected due to the presence of bacteria”. For their part, the two targeted brands insist that their products are safe.

Since then, Nepal has been added to the list of countries that have banned the sale of certain spice blends. A report by Indian news agency ANI, published on the news website Economic Times, explains how the Nepalese turned to locally made and packaged spices. “The market is now aware of the presence of carcinogenic elements in Indian spices”, explains Sagar Tuladhar, a trader in Kathmandu’s old market.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said this week that extensive testing carried out on spice samples across the country “revealed no trace of ethylene oxide”, underlines the online media mint. Explanations which clearly did not convince consumers.

Global spice powerhouse

In India too, the image of these two renowned brands has taken a hit. “One in three households, or 36% of consumers, are inclined to avoid purchasing MDH and Everest spices in the future,” reports Business Today, citing an opinion survey carried out on more than 27,000 people.

MDH, reminds the BBCis a “iconic 105-year-old family business”, while Everest Food Products claims to be India’s largest manufacturer and has been operating for 57 years. “This is a worrying development,” according to the media, since the Asian country “it’s imposed” as a world power in spices. Its exports are worth $4 billion a year, adding to the spice trade in the country of 1.4 billion people, a $10 billion market.

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