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Nepal bans sale of Everest and MDH spices due to safety concerns

New Zealand, United States and Australia shared similar concerns about the above-permissible or risky levels of ethylene oxide in spices of MDH and Everest.

In a new move following Singapore and Hong Kong, Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has banned spices produced by Everest and MDH after concerns rose upon finding high levels of ethylene oxide in it, a harmful chemical that is carcinogenic to humans and increases the risk of lymphoid cancer and breast cancer.

Spices Brands Everest and MDH Face Global Scrutiny Over Ethylene Oxide Contamination

Mohan Krishna Maharajan, spokesperson of Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control in a conversation with ANI over the phone said, “Everest and MDH brand spices which are being imported in Nepal have been banned from import. This comes after the news about traces of harmful chemicals in the spices, ban on import was imposed a week earlier and we also have banned sales of it in the market.”

Everest and MDH
Source: HW News

According to the Indian government, the use of ethylene oxide is allowed from 0.73% to 7% in certain countries and suggested that a standard should be agreed upon for use in a wide array of countries. It also added that the countries that have banned these spices make up for less than one percent of India’s total spice export. However, the Spice Board of India has risen to the call and is taking steps to ensure that these spices are completely safe to consume. 

A Techno-Scientific Committee conducted the root cause analysis, inspected processing facilities and collected samples of the same for testing and provided a series of recommendations that were then implemented by the board.

A stakeholder consultation was also devised, involving over 130 exporters and associations like the All India Spices Exporters Forum and the Indian Spice and Foodstuff Exporters Association. The board then gave certain guidelines for the treatment of ethylene oxide to all the exporters present and provided steps to prevent ethylene contamination in spices exported from India. In April, the Centre for Food Safety of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region announced that a routine surveillance programme had noticed traces of ethylene oxide in MDH Sambhar Masala Powder and Curry Powder. 

Singapore’s Food Agency (SFA) also paused sales of Everest’s Fish Curry Masala due to the levels of ethylene oxide present in it exceeded regulatory levels. 

According to Reuters, New Zealand, United States and Australia have also expressed concerns about spices of MDH and Everest. 

“Ethylene oxide is a chemical known to cause cancer in humans, and its use for food sterilisation has been phased out in New Zealand and other countries. As MDH and Everest spices are also available in New Zealand, we are looking into this issue,” Jenny Bishop, acting deputy general of New Zealand’s food safety regulator, said. 

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued quality checks for MDH and Everest products and has maintained conversations with Hong Kong and Singapore on the matter. 

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