MDH and Everest Masala Ban: Indian spicemakers MDH and Everest have now fallen under the radar of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), Reuters reported. FSANZ is probing claims of contamination in spice mixes produced by Indian manufacturers, as per an announcement on April 30. The inquiry could result in a recall of these products in Australia, mirroring recent preventative measures taken in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“We are working with international counterparts to understand the issue and with federal, state, and territory food enforcement agencies to determine if further action is required in Australia,” FSANZ said in a statement.  Such action could include a recall, it said.

The agency said that “ethylene oxide is not permitted to be used as a treatment for foods sold in Australia,” as per the Reuters report.

Also Read | ‘We do not use ethylene oxide’: MDH refutes cancer-causing pesticide allegations by Hong Kong, Singapore

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had announced on April 26 it was currently collecting additional information regarding the issue, while Indian regulators have recently conducted inspections at the facilities of MDH and Everest.

Also Read | MDH, Everest row: Why top Indian spice brands are under scanner abroad? Explained

In 2019, the FDA mandated a recall of several batches of an MDH product due to salmonella contamination. More recently, in 2023, the agency directed a recall of two spice mixes from Everest for similar contamination risks, the report added.

Last week, India requested data from Hong Kong and Singapore concerning exports of MDH and Everest following the regulatory actions in these countries.

The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong recently issued a statement indicating that the Indian embassy had been notified “ of the test results for follow-up actions,” though details were not disclosed.

India is the world’s largest exporter, consumer, and producer of spices. MDH and Everest are top companies in India’s spice market valued at $10.44 billion in 2022, according to Zion Market Research. During the fiscal year 2022-23, India exported spices worth $4 billion.

(With Inputs from Reuters)

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Published: 30 Apr 2024, 12:39 PM IST