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Spices industry urges immediate action to address food safety concern

Last year, India exported spices to the tune of 1.426 million tonnes valued at approximately $4.2 billion, AISEF said

Indian spices (Source/Unsplash)

Indian spices (Source/Unsplash)

BS Reporter Mumbai

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The Indian spice industry has urged immediate action to address concerns around food safety and export quality, the All India Spices Exporters Forum (AISEF) said in a statement on Thursday.

It also said that at a press conference held in Kochi, AISEF, the Indian Spice & Foodstuff Exporters Association (ISFEA), the Indian Pepper & Spice Trade Association (IPSTA), and the Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders (FISS) reaffirmed their commitment towards upholding the highest quality and safety standards in spice exports from India.

“The industry has emphasised the urgent need to allow ethylene oxide (EtO) treatment for spices within the country to align with the stringent quality requirements of importing nations,” AISEF said in its release.

This comes on the back of the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong recalling spice mixes of MDH and Everest on 5 April, following which the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) also recalled Everest Masala as both agencies found that the premixes contain the pesticide ethylene oxide, both regulators had then said in their press releases.

Last year, India exported spices to the tune of 1.426 million tonnes valued at approximately $4.2 billion, AISEF said.

Sanjeev Bisht, Chairman of AISEF, highlighted that if Indian exporters are not permitted to supply EtO-treated spices, it will have a detrimental effect on the country's position in the global spice market. The industry addressed misconceptions surrounding EtO and emphasised that it is not a pesticide but is a sterilising agent crucial for containing and minimising microbial contamination and life-threatening pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli present in spices and food products.

AISEF highlighted the safety and efficacy of EtO treatment, citing its permissible use in several countries, including the United States, where it is employed to sterilise food items to control food-borne pathogens.

Disallowing EtO treatment could lead to increased risks of microbiological pathogens, non-compliance with regulations, and product recalls in importing countries, potentially jeopardising India's market share, the spices association said in its statement.

The American Spice Trade Association in its letter to the Spices Board asserted that EtO is currently permitted for use on spices in the USA. The US spice industry relies on EtO sterilisation as one of the primary methods to comply with FDA regulations, the release further added.

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First Published: May 16 2024 | 9:20 PM IST

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