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India spice maker says products safe after health concerns

April 23, 2024

Food brand Everest, a household name in India, has said its fish curry spice blend was safe for use following concerns about a cancer-causing chemical.

Everest spice mix, stacked at a store in Srinagar, April 23
Everest's spice blends are very popular among Indians who live outside the country as wellImage: Sharafat Ali/REUTERS

Indian manufacturer Everest Food Products said on Tuesday its spices were safe for consumption after Singapore and Hong Kong flagged allegedly high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide in a product. 

Singapore advised people against using the spice mix for fish curries earlier this month. It came after Hong Kong also suspended the sale of the Everest spice mix for fish curries, along with three other products by a similarly popular Indian brand called MDH.

Authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong said the products allegedly contained high levels of ethylene oxide, a pesticide that can lead to cancer.

"Consumers who have purchased the implicated product are advised not to consume it," Singapore's food agency said on April 18 about Everest's fish curry spice mix, urging consumers to seek medical advice if worried.

Safeguarding the future of saffron production

Everest says spices are safe

Everest said in a statement Tuesday that the specific item under examination was safe to consume, according to Reuters news agency, which cited a statement by the company's director.

"Exports are cleared only after receiving necessary clearances and approval from the laboratories of the Spice Board of India," Rajiv Shah, the director at Everest Food Products, said.

He added just one item of the 60 products had been held for examination and that it was safe to use and there was no need for concern.

MDH has yet to respond to the allegations. India's spice exports regulator, Spcies Board of India, on Tuesday asked Everest and MDH to provide details of quality checks, according to Reuters.

India's top food regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has also asked all states to collect samples of powdered spices and carry out random testing, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

The regulator expects a consolidated report on the matter in the next 25 days, according to the paper.

MDH and Everest are household names in Indian kitchens as a primary choice of spices in cuisine at homes or in restaurants. The companies also export to the US, Europe, the Middle East, and the UK. 

rm/wmr (Reuters)