Hong Kong and Singapore Ban Indian Food Products

Masala Ban
Preeti Bali / 9:58 am / April 23, 2024

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has raised alarm bells for spice lovers, announcing a ban on four spice products from popular Indian brands MDH and Everest. The culprit? Ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic pesticide, was detected in these products during routine food surveillance. This news follows a similar recall in Singapore last week, where Everest’s fish curry masala was pulled from shelves due to the same contaminant.

Unveiling the Hidden Danger

On April 5th, CFS identified ethylene oxide in MDH’s Madras Curry Powder, Mixed Masala Powder, Sambhar Masala, and Everest’s Fish Curry Masala. Classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 carcinogen, this chemical poses a significant risk of developing cancers like lymphoma and breast cancer.

Swift Regulatory Response

Wasting no time, Hong Kong authorities alerted retailers to remove the contaminated spices from shelves, emphasizing the potential health hazards. Similarly, Singapore’s SFA directed the importer, Sp Muthiah & Sons Pte. Ltd., to conduct a thorough recall of the affected Everest product. Both regions emphasized the illegality of ethylene oxide in food products and warned of hefty penalties for violations. These actions align with Hong Kong’s food safety regulations, which strictly prohibit food items exceeding permitted pesticide residue levels.

A Cause for Consumer Caution

Authorities in both Hong Kong and Singapore urge consumers to avoid using the affected spice products. While the SFA clarifies no immediate risk from low levels of ethylene oxide, prolonged consumption can pose health concerns due to its carcinogenic nature.

A Recurring Issue?

This incident isn’t an isolated event for MDH and Everest. Last year, the U.S. FDA requested a recall of several MDH masalas due to Salmonella contamination. These repeated violations raise serious questions about the safety standards and regulatory compliance within India’s spice export industry.

FSSAI Takes Action

Following media reports, India’s food safety regulator, FSSAI, has reportedly ordered quality checks on major branded spices, including MDH and Everest. State food commissioners have been deployed to collect samples from the manufacturing units of these brands across the country. These samples will be sent for testing at accredited laboratories to detect the presence of ethylene oxide. While FSSAI conducts regular checks on domestically available products, reports suggest a lack of regulation for export-bound spices.

This incident highlights the importance of stringent food safety regulations and consumer vigilance to ensure safe and healthy food choices.

More Stories