U.S. FDA Probes Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest After Ethylene Oxide Concerns

The FDA investigates Indian spice giants MDH and Everest after Hong Kong and Singapore banned their products due to alleged contamination with a cancer-causing pesticide, raising concerns for India's $4 billion spice export industry.

Ebenezer Mensah
New Update
U.S. FDA Probes Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest After Ethylene Oxide Concerns

U.S. FDA Probes Indian Spice Makers MDH and Everest After Ethylene Oxide Concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation into Indian spice manufacturers MDH and Everest following actions taken by authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore. Hong Kong halted sales of three MDH spice blends and an Everest spice mix due to allegedly high levels of ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing pesticide. Singapore also ordered a recall of the Everest spice mix for the same reason.

In response to these developments, India's Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Spices Board are examining the quality standards of MDH and Everest spices, which are widely popular in India and exported globally. The Spices Board is inspecting the facilities of both companies to ensure compliance with quality standards and has requested data on their exports to Hong Kong and Singapore. The Board is also initiating mandatory testing for ethylene oxide in spice consignments destined for these two countries and will closely monitor shipments to other nations.

Why this matters: MDH and Everest are among the most prominent spice brands in India, with exports totaling $4 billion in 2022-23. The presence of ethylene oxide in their products raises serious health concerns and could potentially impact India's spice export industry, which is the largest in the world.

Ethylene oxide is a chemical compound that is prohibited for addition to food in India. However, it was allegedly found to be above permissible levels in some spice mixes manufactured by MDH and Everest. The commerce ministry has sought detailed reports from Indian embassies in Singapore and Hong Kong and has also requested information from the two spice makers.

While Everest has stated that its spices are safe for consumption and were exported with necessary clearances, MDH has not yet commented on the matter. An FDA spokesperson confirmed that the agency is aware of the reports and is collecting additional information about the situation.

India, being the world's largest consumer, producer, and exporter of spices, has a vital stake in maintaining the quality and safety of its spice products. The Spices Board, responsible for regulating spice exports, has taken comprehensive measures to address the situation, including issuing advisories to exporters and making inquiries with MDH and Everest. As the investigation unfolds, the Indian government and regulatory authorities are working to ensure the integrity of India's spice industry and protect consumer health both domestically and internationally.

Key Takeaways

  • FDA investigating Indian spice makers MDH and Everest over ethylene oxide contamination.
  • Hong Kong and Singapore banned certain MDH and Everest spice products due to high ethylene oxide.
  • India's FSSAI and Spices Board examining quality standards and exports of MDH and Everest.
  • India's $4 billion spice export industry at risk due to ethylene oxide concerns.
  • Regulatory authorities working to ensure integrity of India's spice industry and consumer safety.