Food & DrinkLifestyle

Nepal Bans MDH and Everest Spices: Pesticide Ethylene Oxide Found, Following Singapore and Hong Kong

After Singapore and Hong Kong, Nepal has also banned the sale, usage, and import of two Indian spice brands, Everest and MDH. Mohan Krishna Maharjan, spokesperson for Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, told a news agency that “the import of Everest and MDH brand spices into Nepal has been banned.”

The ban on imports was imposed a week ago following news of harmful chemicals found in the spices. We have also banned their sale in the market. Chemical analysis of these spices from both brands is ongoing. The ban will remain in effect until the final report is received.

Singapore-Hong Kong Banned Everest and MDH Spices in April

At the beginning of April, Singapore and Hong Kong banned some products from both MDH and Everest companies due to excessive levels of the pesticide ethylene oxide. This pesticide, in higher amounts found in these products, poses a cancer risk.

Hong Kong’s Food Safety Department reported finding high levels of ethylene oxide in three MDH spice mixes – Madras Curry Powder, Sambar Masala Powder, and Curry Powder. The carcinogenic pesticide was also found in Everest’s Fish Curry Masala.

India Sought Details from Singapore and Hong Kong

Twenty-four days ago, India requested details from the food regulators of Singapore and Hong Kong regarding the ban on MDH and Everest spices. The Ministry of Commerce also directed Indian embassies in both Singapore and Hong Kong to provide detailed reports on this matter. The ministry has also sought details from MDH and Everest.

Pesticide Limits in Spices are Regulated

On May 6, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) dismissed all media reports claiming that the Indian food regulator permits pesticide levels in herbs and spices ten times higher than the prescribed standards.

FSSAI stated in a press release that “all such news is false and baseless. In India, the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) is one of the strictest standards globally. The MRLs for pesticides are determined separately for various food items based on their risk assessment.

Increase in Limits for Certain Pesticides

For certain pesticides, the limits were increased to ensure safety, as accepted by FSSAI, to 0.1 mg/kg from the previous 0.01 mg/kg, which were not registered with the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB&RC) in India.


Scientific Panel Evaluation

The evaluation was conducted by a scientific panel to regulate the production, import-export, transportation, and storage of pesticides by CIB and RC.

Miclobutanil Limitation

The limit for miclobutanil in chili powder is set at 2 milligrams/kg, whereas Codex specifies a limit of 20 milligrams/kg for mixed myclobutanil.

Regulatory Approval Discrepancy

For spiromesifen, while Codex sets a limit of 5 milligrams/kg, FSSAI approves only up to 1 milligram/kg.

Metalaxyl and Metalaxyl-M Limits

Codex sets the limit for metalaxyl and metalaxyl-M usage at 2mg/kg, while FSSAI approves only up to 0.5mg/kg for mixture.

Number of Registered Pesticides

CIB and RC have registered over 295 pesticides in India, with 139 of them usable in spices, while Codex has adopted a total of 243 pesticides, with 75 usable in spices.

Role of Codex

Codex is a global entity that ensures consumer health protection and inspects food industries, granting approval for food standards and their implementation among international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Purpose of Pesticides in Spices

Pesticides are used in spices by manufacturers to prevent contamination by bacteria and fungi such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can reduce the shelf life of spices. Companies use pesticides as preservatives or sterilizing agents to prevent spoilage over an extended period.

Financial Output in 2022-23

India had approximately ₹32,000 crore worth of spice exports in the financial year 2022-23. Major spice exports include chili, cumin, turmeric, curry powder, and cardamom.

Rahul Sharma

My name is Rahul Sharma. As a passionate writer and explorer, I'm always seeking inspiration in lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food & drink, and travel. With years of experience in the industry, I bring a unique perspective to my writing, blending my love for culture, style, and adventure.