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May 18, 2024

Nepal Bans Sale of MDH and Everest Spice-Mix Products Over Quality Concerns

Nepal has joined Singapore and Hong Kong in banning the sale and import of certain spice-mix products from Indian brands MDH and Everest due to concerns over quality and safety. The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control in Nepal announced on Friday that four specific spice-mix products from these brands have been banned following suspicions of ethylene oxide (EtO) contamination.

The banned products include MDH’s Madras Curry Powder, Sambhar Mixed Masala Powder, Mixed Masala Curry Powder, and Everest’s Fish Curry Masala. The department’s notice highlighted that residues of ethylene oxide in these products exceeded the prescribed safety limits, prompting the ban under Article 19 of the Food Regulation 2027 B.S.

In its statement, the department emphasized that their decision was influenced by media reports indicating the presence of sub-standard and potentially harmful products in the market. Consequently, importers and traders have been urged to recall these products to prevent any risk to consumers.

Regional and Global Repercussions

This move by Nepal follows similar actions taken by Singapore and Hong Kong last month. Both regions suspended the sale of several MDH and Everest spice products after detecting elevated levels of ethylene oxide, a chemical linked to certain cancers. This has raised significant concerns about the safety of these widely used spices.

In response to these bans, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has initiated a comprehensive review of powdered spices across various brands in India. This is a crucial step to ensure that the spices being exported and sold domestically meet the required safety standards.

Industry Impact and Response

The Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders (FISS) expressed deep concerns about the potential fallout from these bans. On Friday, FISS warned that India’s spice exports could decline by nearly 40 percent in the fiscal year 2025 if the issue of ethylene oxide contamination is not resolved promptly. Such a decline would be significant for a country that is one of the world’s leading spice producers.

According to the Spices Board of India, the nation exported over 200 varieties of spices and value-added spice products to approximately 180 countries, generating around USD 4 billion in revenue during the 2021-22 period. This underscores the vital role of the spice industry in India’s economy and the potential repercussions of these recent quality concerns.

Moving Forward

Addressing the issue of ethylene oxide contamination is now a priority for stakeholders within the spice industry. Immediate actions are being urged to ensure the safety and quality of exported spices to restore confidence among international buyers and prevent further disruptions in trade.

The recent bans by Nepal, Singapore, and Hong Kong highlight the importance of stringent quality control measures in the food industry. As these regions crack down on products that fail to meet safety standards, there is an increased focus on improving regulatory frameworks to protect consumers and uphold the reputation of the spice industry globally.

In conclusion, the ban on MDH and Everest spice-mix products in Nepal signifies a critical step in addressing food safety concerns related to ethylene oxide contamination. It also serves as a reminder of the continuous need for rigorous quality control in the production and export of food products.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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