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Food regulators from Hong Kong and Singapore find cancer-causing chemicals in Everest and MDH herbs

Vaseline 1 month ago

Image used for representational purposes

Image used for representational purposes File photo

NEW DELHI: Famous Indian spices are in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The Hong Kong Food Authority has found four products from popular Indian brands MDH and Everest to contain cancer-causing ingredients.

Following this, Singapore has recalled Everest fish curry masala imported from India, citing the presence of ethylene oxide, a carcinogen that increases the risk of breast cancer and lymphoma.

The Center for Food Safety, Hong Kong’s food and environmental regulatory agency, said it had collected samples of four products under its routine food monitoring program and found the presence of the pesticide ethylene oxide, which is unfit for human consumption.

The three MDH products are curry powder (spice mixture for Madras curry), mixed masala powder and sambhar masala. The fourth product is Everest Fish Curry Masala.

The April 5 announcement stated that they had informed the affected sellers of the irregularities and instructed them to stop sales and remove the affected products from the shelves.

It said the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified ethylene oxide as a Group 1 carcinogen.

According to the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM), food for human consumption containing pesticide residues may only be sold if the consumption of the food is not dangerous or injurious to health.

As per the instructions of the CFS, the distributors/importers Sp Muthiah & Sons Pte. Ltd. Recalls have been requested for the affected products.

After Hong Kong’s food regulator identified pesticides in these spices, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said it had ordered the importer to issue a full recall of the affected products.

It was further stated that ethylene oxide is a pesticide that should not be used in food. “It can be used to fumigate agricultural products to prevent microbial contamination.”

The report further said that while there is no immediate risk from consuming food contaminated with low levels of ethylene oxide, long-term exposure could lead to health problems.

“Therefore, exposure to this substance should be minimized as much as possible.”

It also added that consumers who purchased the affected products are advised not to consume them.

“Those who have consumed the affected products and are concerned about their health should seek medical advice.”

This is not the first time that the two Indian companies have been asked to withdraw their products from overseas markets.

In June last year, the US Food and Drugs Authority had asked Everest Food Products to recall its two products, sambhar masala, garam masala and maggi masala, which had tested positive for Salmonella. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.

In September 2019, at least three batches of MDH’s sambar masala were withdrawn from the US after the FDA tested them and determined they were positive for salmonella.

Kerala-based liver doctor Dr Cyriac Abby Philips, popularly known as LiverDoc in

“What is India’s food regulator doing? If this is the sick scene with international exports, what are we being exposed to? India has no public health value and looks like government and most people are content with distracting politics and religion. We need to start an era of citizen science in India to make those responsible accountable too,” he said.