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Nepal Bans Everest and MDH Masala Brands, Commences Testing for Cancer-Causing Chemical

Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has enforced a ban on the import, sale, and consumption of two Indian spice brands, Everest and MDH, as they initiate tests to detect ethylene oxide levels, a harmful chemical, in their products. This decision follows reports of elevated ethylene oxide traces in the spices.

Mohan Krishna Maharjan, spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, confirmed the ban in a conversation with ANI, stating that it was implemented a week prior and includes halting sales in the market. Testing is currently ongoing to assess the chemical levels in spices from these brands, with the ban remaining in effect until conclusive results are obtained. The actions of Hong Kong and Singapore, which have also banned these brands, influenced Nepal’s decision.

According to Indian Government sources, the permissible use of ethylene oxide varies among different countries, ranging from 0.73 percent to 7 percent. They advocate for the establishment of a standard for ethylene oxide usage globally. Furthermore, the banned spices represent less than one percent of India’s total spice exports.

Meanwhile, the Spice Board of India has undertaken measures to ensure the safety and quality of Indian spice exports to affected regions. These steps include implementing recommendations from the Techno-Scientific Committee, conducting root cause analyses, inspecting processing facilities, and conducting sample testing in accredited labs. Additionally, the board organized stakeholder consultations involving over 130 exporters and associations to address the issue.

The Spice Board of India has issued guidelines for ethylene oxide treatment to exporters and is actively working to prevent ethylene oxide contamination in spices exported from India. In April, the Hong Kong food safety watchdog banned four spice products from Indian brands MDH and Everest after detecting ethylene oxide presence, citing concerns about its carcinogenic properties.

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