'Ethylene Oxide Treatment Done Only For Health Of People', Says FISS On Ban On Spices

'Ethylene Oxide Treatment Done Only For Health Of People', Says FISS On Ban On Spices

The Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders has stepped into the matter of Indian spices being banned in Singapore and Hong Kong, followed recently by Nepal stating that the treatment of ethylene oxide is done to save people from the harmful effects of processed food.

IANSUpdated: Saturday, May 18, 2024, 03:41 PM IST
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The Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders has stepped into the matter of Indian spices being banned in Singapore and Hong Kong, followed recently by Nepal stating that the treatment of ethylene oxide is done to save people from the harmful effects of processed food.

Speaking to ANI, Ashwin Nayak, Chairman of the Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders (FISS), said, "This ethylene oxide treatment is done only for the health of the people.

If the spices used in food are not processed properly, microbiological parameters are found in them, like Salmonella, E-Coli, Aflatoxin, and Coliform; all of these are also dangerous for the body. When we treat them with ethylene oxide, microbiological parameters come under control and their dangerous effects are eliminated."

According to FISS, India's reputation as the leading producer and exporter of spices has been tarnished by recent export recalls due to the presence of ethylene oxide residues in food. Numerous reports have emerged regarding the use of ethylene oxide in spices and spice products. It's important to clarify that ethylene oxide is not a pesticide.

FISS says that ethylene oxide is a sterilizing agent used to reduce or eliminate microbial elements, including dangerous pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, in spices and food products.

Additionally, Ethylene oxide is widely used to sterilize heat-sensitive medical disposables such as syringes and catheters, with nearly 50 per cent of the world's disposable medical devices undergoing EtO sterilization. These practices are approved even for the most vulnerable patients.

The federation said in a release that it assures consumers and all those concerned that Ethylene oxide is not a pesticide. EtO is a sterilizing agent that is used to contain or minimize microbial elements in spices and food products, including life-threatening pathogens like Salmonella, E coli, etc.

"India is the hub of spices. India is the largest exporter of spices in the whole world. The thing due to which there is an uproar right now has been approved by the American Spice Association in America. The spices used there contain 80 to 90 treated spices", Nayak added.

He said, "In many countries of the world, some amounts of ethylene oxide are allowed in spices. Therefore, there is no need to be under any illusion." Going forward, to avoid any export effect, the FSSI wants the Spice Board to keep in mind the amount of ethyl oxide allowed in each country.

In the statement, the federation clarified that EtO is not harmful to humans and is known to occur naturally in flora. EtO contamination can also occur due to its natural presence without EtO treatment. The primary purpose of treatment is to protect public health, the statement added.

The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong, during a normal food survey, found the pesticide in three MDH spice products: Madras Curry Powder, Sambhar Masala Powder, and Curry Powder, as well as in Everest Group's Fish Curry Masala.

Corresponding to this, both companies' products were recalled after Singapore's food authorities discovered carcinogenic chemicals in them.

Prolonged exposure to ethylene oxide increases the risk of cancer and makes it dangerous for human consumption. Nepal also joined these two countries and banned the import of two Indian spice brands.

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