Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest Face FDA Probe Over Alleged Cancer-Causing Pesticides

Indian spice giants MDH and Everest face US probe over alleged cancer-causing pesticides in their products, raising concerns about the safety and quality of Indian spice exports.

Geeta Pillai
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Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest Face FDA Probe Over Alleged Cancer-Causing Pesticides

Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest Face FDA Probe Over Alleged Cancer-Causing Pesticides

Indian spice makers MDH and Everest are facing a probe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over alleged cancer-causing pesticides found in their spice blends. The controversy erupted after Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety (CFS) detected the prohibited pesticide ethylene oxide in various pre-packaged spice products from MDH and Everest, leading to a sales ban in Hong Kong and a recall order in Singapore.

The CFS found the presence of ethylene oxide in samples of MDH's Madras Curry Powder, Sambhar Masala Mixed Masala Powder, and Curry Powder Mixed Masala Powder, as well as Everest Fish Curry Masala. As a result, Hong Kong authorities urged consumers to avoid buying these products and asked sellers to remove them from shelves. Singapore's food agency also issued a recall of imported Everest Fish Curry Masala.

Both MDH and Everest have strongly denied the allegations, asserting that their products adhere to stringent health and safety standards. MDH stated that they do not use ethylene oxide in their spice production and that the allegations lack evidence. "We wish to inform you that we have not received any communication from the authorities in Hong Kong or Singapore," an MDH spokesperson said. "The claims made are completely untrue and lack any substantiating evidence."

Everest also maintained that their products are safe and authentic, emphasizing their commitment to product safety and quality. The companies assert that their spices were exported after receiving necessary clearances and that they abide by regulatory standards both domestically and internationally.

Why this matters: India is the world's largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spices, with exports worth nearly Rs 32,000 crore in the fiscal year 2022-23. The probe into MDH and Everest's products raises concerns about the safety and quality standards of Indian spice exports, which could potentially impact the country's reputation and trade in the global spice market.

The Indian government's Spices Board has requested data from authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore and is working with the affected exporters to determine the root cause of the alleged quality issues. The board is also conducting inspections at the respective plants to ensure adherence to regulatory standards. This is not the first time MDH has faced issues, as some of its sambhar powder batches were recalled in the US in 2019 due to Salmonella contamination.

The FDA is gathering additional information about the situation, while India's food regulator, the FSSAI, is checking the quality standards of MDH and Everest following the moves in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Spices Board of India has stated that it will start mandatory testing of spice consignments destined for these markets and is working to establish stringent protocols and guidelines for ethylene oxide residue to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spices meant for exports.

Key Takeaways

  • Indian spice makers MDH and Everest under US FDA probe for alleged cancer-causing pesticides.
  • Hong Kong banned and Singapore recalled their products after detecting prohibited pesticide ethylene oxide.
  • Companies deny allegations, claim adherence to safety standards; India investigating to ensure quality.
  • Probe raises concerns about safety and quality of Indian spice exports, potentially impacting trade.
  • India's Spices Board to implement mandatory testing and stricter protocols to ensure export quality.