Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and the Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced that samples of prepackaged spice mix products from MDH and Everest brands were found to contain a pesticide, ethylene oxide. This announcement has led to Singapore and Hong Kong raising a ban on the products. “Members of the public should not consume the affected products. The trade should also stop using or selling the affected products immediately if they possess any of them,” the official statement from the CFS reads.

A spokesperson from the CFS, said, “The CFS collected the above-mentioned samples from three retail outlets in Tsim Sha Tsui respectively for testing under its routine Food Surveillance Programme. The test results showed that the samples contained a pesticide, ethylene oxide. The CFS has informed the vendors concerned of the irregularities and instructed them to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected products. According to the CFS’s instructions, the distributors/importers concerned have initiated recalls on the affected products. Members of the public may call the respective hotlines during office hours for enquiries about the recalls of the products concerned.”

The spokesperson continued, “The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified ethylene oxide as a Group 1 carcinogen. 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. An offender is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for six months upon conviction.”

The CFS has informed the vendors concerned of the irregularities and instructed them to stop sale and remove from shelves the affected products. According to the CFS’s instructions, the distributors/importers concerned have initiated recalls on the affected products. The CFS will alert the trade, continue to follow up on the incidents and take appropriate action. Investigations are ongoing.

Ashwin Bhadri, CEO at Equinox Labs, said, “It is worrying to hear about the recent recall of a well-known Indian spice brand in Singapore due to excessive pesticide residue. Although India has established testing guidelines and export systems, this incident emphasises the need for more stringent scrutiny throughout the entire supply chain. We must guarantee that all exported goods meet the highest safety standards to maintain consumer confidence in Indian products. Furthermore, this incident underscores the importance of collaboration between exporting and importing countries. Sharing information and strengthening import controls can significantly safeguard consumers from such risks.”

FSSAI Action
FSSAI has, meanwhile, decided to take samples of spices of all the brands including MDH and Everest acrosa India, to ascertain the quality of the products.

According to FSSAI, a consolidated report on spices’ analysis is expected to come within a month.

The food regulator also added that the matter related to export comes under the Export Inspection Council of India.

Furthermore, the Spice Board of India is also looking into the ban imposed by Singapore and Hong Kong on the two spice brands.