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Nepal Bans MDH and Everest Spice Brands Amid Ethylene Oxide Contamination Concerns

In a move echoing recent actions by other countries, Nepal has joined the list of nations banning the import, consumption, and sale of popular Indian spice brands MDH and Everest. The decision comes in response to reports of ethylene oxide contamination found in the products, raising significant health concerns among consumers.


Concerns Spark Global Bans and Recalls

Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control made the decision following similar actions taken by Hong Kong and Singapore. This action came after traces of the harmful chemical were discovered in samples of MDH and Everest spice products.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety detected ethylene oxide in MDH’s ‘Madras Curry Powder’, ‘Sambhar Masala Powder’, and ‘Curry Powder’, as well as Everest Group’s ‘Fish Curry Masala’. In Singapore, regulatory authorities found carcinogenic ingredients in products from both brands, prompting directives for product recalls from importers.

The presence of ethylene oxide, deemed unfit for human consumption and a known cancer risk with prolonged exposure, has sparked widespread alarm among consumers and regulatory bodies alike.

Furthermore, recent statistics reveal a troubling trend in the safety of spice exports from India. The US Customs refused a staggering 31 percent of all spice-related shipments from MDH due to salmonella contamination over the past six months.


Spice Board of India Takes Action

Amid mounting concerns and international scrutiny, the Spice Board of India has stepped in to address the safety and quality of Indian spice exports. The committee assigned a Techno-Scientific Committee with conducting a root cause analysis, inspecting processing facilities, and collecting samples for testing in accredited laboratories.

The board has since implemented the committee’s recommendations in an effort to restore confidence in the safety of Indian spices on the global market.

According to government sources, various countries permit the use of ethylene oxide, with permissible levels ranging from 0.73% to up to 7%.

However, there are calls for the establishment of a standardized protocol governing the use of ethylene oxide across different jurisdictions. This is to ensure uniform safety standards for consumers worldwide.

Furthermore, while the spices banned in countries like Nepal, Hong Kong, and Singapore represent less than one percent of India’s total spice exports, the repercussions of these bans extend beyond economic considerations. The incidents underscore the urgent need for robust quality control measures and regulatory oversight to safeguard public health and restore trust in the integrity of food products.

As investigations continue and test results are awaited, consumers are advised to exercise caution. They should adhere to any advisories issued by regulatory authorities regarding the consumption of MDH and Everest spice products.

Facing unprecedented challenges, the global spice trade requires collaboration among stakeholders to implement effective solutions. These must prioritize the safety and well-being of consumers worldwide.

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