FSSAI’s nationwide testing reveals no ethylene oxide in Indian spice brands 

In response to Hong Kong’s claim of excessive levels of ethylene oxide (ETO) in Indian spice brands, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) announced no traces of ETO, a cancer-causing chemical, after an extensive nationwide testing of samples.

The Hong Kong Food Authority raised concerns about certain spice products from M/s Mahashian Di Hatti Pvt Ltd (MDH) and M/s Everest Food Products Pvt Ltd (Everest) which led FSSAI to conduct an investigation on April 22, 2024, involving all State and Union Territory Food Safety Commissioners and Regional Directors.

Under this initiative, 34 samples of Everest and MDH spices were collected for testing, with 9 samples from Everest’s facilities in Maharashtra and Gujarat, and 25 from MDH’s facilities in Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan.

The comprehensive testing process evaluated various quality and safety parameters, including moisture content, insect and rodent contamination, heavy metals, aflatoxins, pesticide residues, and microbiological contaminants.

Crucially, the samples were also tested for ethylene oxide (ETO) at NABL-accredited laboratories designated by the FSSAI. Of the 34 samples, 28 lab reports have been received and examined by the FSSAI’s Scientific Panel, confirming the absence of ETO in all tested samples. The remaining six reports are pending but are expected to align with these findings.

In addition to Everest and MDH, the Scientific Panel reviewed test reports from over 300 spice samples of other brands collected nationwide. These results also showed no presence of ETO, reinforcing the safety of domestically available spices.

In light of these findings, the FSSAI reassures consumers about the safety of spices available in the Indian market. Additionally, the Spice Board has issued updated guidelines for spice exporters on the use of ethylene oxide (ETO) as a fumigant, ensuring compliance with the microbial contamination standards of importing countries.