India under scrutiny for potential carcinogens in spices

Alarm over carcinogenic substances inside spices: Indian authorities announced tests and inspections in the industry after detecting ethylene oxide gas in four popular blends produced by Mdh and Everest

India is currently facing an investigation into potential carcinogenic substances in its spices, following bans on four popular spice blends by Hong Kong and Singapore, sparking international concern.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has announced the commencement of testing and inspections within the spice industry to explore the presence of harmful substances in the final products.

This decision came after ethylene oxide, a gas originally used for sterilizing surgical instruments but evidently also in Indian agriculture, was detected in four popular blends produced by MDH and Everest, which were immediately banned in Hong Kong and Singapore.

This compound is linked to an increased risk of white blood cell cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma, and lymphocytic leukemia, due to its ability to damage DNA. Additionally, long-term exposure may pose a breast cancer risk in women.

The market at risk?

The discovery of carcinogenic substances in spices has raised further concerns, as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported finding such substances in 527 Indian food products. These findings have led to the rejection of numerous shipments and the removal of various products from the market, particularly those containing sesame and dried fruits.

At the center of the banned products are blends from major companies like MDH and Everest, whose exports also reach the rest of the world. The MDH Group has also encountered issues with the American Food and Drug Administration, which has rejected 31% of its products in the last six months due to traces of salmonella.

This spice scandal could have significant repercussions for India, especially if other nations adopt measures similar to those of Hong Kong and Singapore. India is the world’s leading producer, consumer, and exporter of spices, and any loss of confidence in its products could severely damage the industry.

The article draws upon studies published and recommendations from international institutions and/or experts. We do not make claims in the medical-scientific field and report the facts as they are. Sources are indicated at the end of each article.
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