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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Indian Spice Exports Face Scrutiny as Hong Kong, Singapore Halt Sales

Should you be worried after Hong Kong and Singapore suspended the sale of a few packaged spices and spice blends exported from India? So last month, Hong Kong suspended the sale of 3 spice blends made by MDH which includes madras curry powder, sambar masala – mixed masala powder and curry powder – mixed masala powder and an average spice mix for fish curry. The reason they said was the presence of carcinogenic residue ethylene oxide or ETO. ETO is a basic chemical, a petrochem product, a building block to make plastics, medicines, detergents, adhesives, etc.

Used in industrial applications for decades, its role in sterilising medical equipment has been noteworthy. ETO also has been used to fumigate spices at one time, seen as the go -to chemical to preserve spices and herbs in reducing bacterial and microbial loads. Moreover, ETO has provenability to eliminate disease -causing microorganisms such as salmonella. So, what are the standards of some countries for ETO? So, European Union prohibits any use of ETO in food imports.

In US and Canada, MRLs for ETO are 7 mg per kg on various fresh products. Similarly, in South Korea and Japan, The limit is of 0 .01 mg per kg. In the recent turn -off events however, the American Spice Trade Association or ASTA informed in a letter that both the US Food and Drug Administration FDA and the US Environmental Protection Agency, which is EPA, have concluded that the consumption of spices treated with ethylene oxide is safe.

The US Spice Body ASTA wrote to Spice Board of India Secretary Dr. Keiji Jagadisha saying, in quotes, the American Spice Trade Association ASTA has become aware of a recent media report on the rejection of Indian spices from Singapore, Hong Kong due to the presence of ETU residues.

In light of the recent developments, we are reaching out to offer clarification on ETU and food safety regulation pertaining to spices imported to US. It is further said that ethylene oxide is an approved antimicrobial fumigant in the US.

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