National

Hong Kong, Singapore Ban MDH, Everest Spices From India | Details

Hong Kong’s food safety watchdog has banned three MDH products – Madras Curry Powder, Mixed Masala Powder, and Sambhar Masala – and Everest's Fish Curry Masala.

PTI
Hong Kong on spices from two Indian companies. (Representational image) | Photo: PTI
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Hong Kong and Singapore have banned some spice products from Indian companies. Hong Kong has banned four spice products from the country’s popular brands—MDH and Everest, while Singapore has recalled Everest's Fish Curry Masala.

Hong Kong’s food safety watchdog has found the products from MDH and Everest contained a cancer-causing chemical. The country’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) on April 5 detected ethylene oxide, a pesticide classified as a carcinogen, in three MDH products – Madras Curry Powder, Mixed Masala Powder, and Sambhar Masala – and Everest's Fish Curry Masala.

Reportedly, CFS said it collected samples of the four products under its routine food surveillance programme and found the presence of ethylene oxide, which is unsuitable for human consumption. Hong Kong regulations prohibit the sale of food containing pesticide residues exceeding safe limits.

"According to the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM), a food for human consumption containing pesticide residue may only be sold if consumption of the food is not dangerous or prejudicial to health," CFS report said.

The CFS has also ordered vendors to remove the affected products from shelves and has launched an investigation. The regulator also indicated that "appropriate action" may be taken.

Following Hong Kong, Singapore's Food Agency (SFA) also recalled Everest's Fish Curry Masala due to exceeding permissible levels of ethylene oxide.

SFA has also clarified there is no immediate risk from low levels of ethylene oxide, prolonged consumption could pose health risks due to the chemical's carcinogenic properties.

What is ethylene oxide?

Ethylene oxide is a flammable colorless gas with a sweet odor. It is used primarily to produce other chemicals, including antifreeze. In smaller amounts, ethylene oxide is used as a pesticide and a sterilizing agent. The ability of ethylene oxide to damage DNA makes it an effective sterilizing agent but also accounts for its cancer-causing activity.

Which cancers are associated with it?

Ethylene oxide can cause lymphoma and leukemia. Besides, stomach and breast cancers may also be associated with ethylene oxide exposure.

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