New Zealand looking into Indian spice brands over contamination

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 1:54 AM

By Rishika Sadam

HYDERABAD (Reuters) – New Zealand’s food safety regulator on Wednesday said it is investigating possible contamination in spice products of top Indian brands MDH and Everest after they faced scrutiny in other countries.

The United States and Australia have been looking into contamination after Hong Kong last month suspended sales of three spice blends of MDH and one of Everest, saying they contained high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide, ethylene oxide. Singapore ordered a recall of the Everest spice mix.

In a statement to Reuters, the regulator, New Zealand Food Safety, said it is aware of the overseas recalls.

“Ethylene oxide is a chemical known to cause cancer in humans, and its use for food sterilisation has been phased out in New Zealand and other countries. As MDH and Everest spices are also available in New Zealand, we are looking into this issue,” said Jenny Bishop, the regulator’s acting deputy director general.

MDH and Everest did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. They have said their products are safe for consumption.

Regulators in India have inspected MDH and Everest plants and sent samples for testing after the global scrutiny, though the results have not yet been made public.

For decades, MDH and Everest have been household names in India. Their products are also exported to the United States, Europe, South East Asia, Middle East and Australia.

MDH has since 2021 also seen an average 14.5% of its U.S. shipments rejected over the presence of bacteria salmonella, a Reuters analysis of U.S. Food and Drug Administration data has found.

(Reporting by Rishika Sadam; Editing by Aditya Kalra and Gerry Doyle)