India makes it compulsory to test spice shipments to Hong Kong & Singapore

India makes it compulsory to test spice shipments to Hong Kong & Singapore

Spice exports from India undergo mandatory testing for Ethylene Oxide residue after recalls in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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India has made it compulsory to test and check for Ethylene Oxide (EtO) residue in allspice shipments to Singapore and Hong Kong starting from May 7, announced the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Wednesday. This step follows reports of recalls of Indian spice products from these countries.

To address this issue, a committee of experts conducted a detailed analysis, inspected processing facilities, and collected samples for testing in accredited laboratories. The Spice Board India, in collaboration with various export associations, organized consultations involving over 130 exporters to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spice exports.

“The Spice Board India has taken steps to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spice exports to Singapore and Hong Kong,” stated the commerce and industry ministry. Additionally, guidelines for EtO treatment have been reiterated to all exporters.

According to a government official, the rejection rates for spices are low, with less than 1 per cent of the total quantity exported facing rejection. In the fiscal year 2024, India exported about 14.15 million tonnes of spices, and only a small quantity, approximately 200 kg, was recalled.

The official further explained that while the sample failure rate for Indian exports remains low at 0.1 to 0.2 per cent, the sample failure rate for imports from other countries is higher at 0.73 per cent. “One sample being impacted is not a big issue,” added the official.

Ethylene Oxide (EtO) is a fumigant used during transportation, and some amount of pesticide is allowed in the process of food management, stated the official. Different countries have varying limits for chemicals permitted in food.

Hong Kong had previously banned four products from Indian manufacturers due to the presence of ethylene oxide. Following suit, the Singapore Food Agency ordered the recall of specific spice products. However, the manufacturer MDH assured consumers that its products are safe and denied any use of ethylene oxide.

“We reassure our buyers and consumers that we do not use ethylene oxide at any stage of storing, processing, or packing our spices,” MDH stated.