Does Ethylene Oxide Allegedly Found In MDH & Everest Really Cause Cancer? Here's What We Know

Does Ethylene Oxide Allegedly Found In MDH & Everest Really Cause Cancer? Here's What We Know

FSSAI, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, has recently taken action against the popular spice brands MDH and Everest over their cancer-causing contents after Hong Kong and Singapore imposed bans on the products.

Manasi KambleUpdated: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 06:18 PM IST
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EVEREST and MDH |

Two of India's most recognisable spice brands, MDH and Everest, have come under fire recently after Singapore and Hong Kong banned the sale of certain products due to alleged presence of a harmful pesticide. This has triggered investigations by Indian food safety authorities.

The Allegations

The regulatory bodies in Singapore and Hong Kong detected ethylene oxide, a pesticide classified as a carcinogen, in some spice mixes from MDH and Everest, exceeding permissible limits. The Spices Board of India is also investigating the matter. This move aims to verify the safety of spices consumed domestically and ensure adherence to regulations.

MDH and Everest's Standpoint

Both companies have maintained their commitment to food safety and quality. They have reportedly assured cooperation with the ongoing investigations and expressed confidence in the safety of their products.

If investigations by FSSAI confirm excessive ethylene oxide residues in MDH and Everest products sold in India, certain spice mixes from these brands may be recalled from the market.

The ongoing investigations leave several questions unanswered.

Ethylene Oxide in Spices Causes Cancer

Multiple studies have established ethylene oxide as a human carcinogen. Here are some key findings:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): IARC classifies ethylene oxide as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning there's strong evidence it directly causes cancer in humans.

National Cancer Institute (NCI): The NCI website states that "occupational exposure to ethylene oxide has been clearly linked to several types of cancer, including lymphocytic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and some types of stomach cancer."

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA classifies ethylene oxide as a likely human carcinogen based on inhalation exposure.

The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests ethylene oxide is a human carcinogen, primarily through inhalation exposure. While the specific risks associated with ingesting low levels of ethylene oxide in contaminated spices require further research, regulatory bodies set limits based on the potential for genotoxicity and long-term health risks.

Consumers deserve transparency from spice brands regarding ethylene oxide levels and any steps taken to ensure product safety. Until investigations conclude, it's advisable to be cautious and consider alternative brands with proven safety measures.

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