Food Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

by Apr 27, 2024Health0 comments

Food Business Operators need to be sensitised about importance of raw material testing, ill effects of pesticide residues, artificial ripening and wax coating using unapproved chemicals


Following complaints by Hong Kong and Singapore that several popular spice mixes of the two leading brands of MDH and Everest products contained traces of ethylene oxide more than the permissible levels, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has commissioned quality checks on these brands.

Hong Kong and Singapore recalled variants of the two masala majors’ products in their countries.

In the quality checks, FSSAI will also assess whether the products sold by MDH and Everest match the Indian standards of chemical residue as prescribed by the law, it is said.

Reportedly, the food regulator has already started the process of sample collection to test the presence of ethylene oxide in the spices beyond their permissible limits.

Ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol are chemicals which are used in spices and millets to preserve them for longer periods. They are also used in pesticides as stabilising agents.

Scientists say that consumption of these chemicals beyond a permissible level could be carcinogenic.

It may be noted that the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong had recalled spice mixes of MDH and Everest on April 5. Following this, even the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) recalled Everest Masala. Both agencies found that the premixes contain a pesticide ethylene oxide, both the regulators had said in their press releases.

CFS Hong Kong said, in its release, that it has recalled MDH Madras Curry Powder, Curry Powder Mixed Masala Powder, Sambhar Masala Mixed Masala Powder and Everest Fish Curry Masala.

After CFS’ release on April 5, SFA also recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala on April 18. This is not the first time Everest has come under heat from a foreign food regulator. In 2023, US Food & Drug Administration recalled Everest Sambhar Masala and Garam Masala as samples tested positive for Salmonella. It had advised consumers not to consume the products and destroy them.

Incidentally, on April 8, the FSSAI had launched an extensive awareness and sensitization program targeting major markets in the national capital, in collaboration with the Food Safety Department, Delhi.

Kicking off from the popular Khan Market and INA Market of Delhi on 8th April, 2024, the awareness campaign is focusing particularly on the detection and mitigation of pesticide residue and contaminants in food products.

Market associations and traders are said to be actively engaged and educated on the harmful effects of pesticide residue, mainly in fruits and vegetables and the importance of their testing.

Additionally, attendees were introduced to FSSAI’s pioneering initiative, the “Food Safety on Wheel” mobile lab, equipped with various rapid testing kits capable of detecting approximately 50 pesticide residues across various food matrices, namely, fruits and vegetables, milk and cereals. Results from these tests are available within a few hours, facilitating swift action to ensure food safety.

Traders are being encouraged to capitalize on this resource for expedited testing and to ensure the safety and quality of products sold in the market. Furthermore, they are also sensitized about a wide array of topics concerning food safety like the necessity of obtaining FSSAI licenses or registration and strict adherence to food safety standards.

Traders are now encouraged to source raw materials exclusively from FSSAI licensed/registered vendors to ensure traceability and compliance.

Further, the significance of raw material testing to guarantee the safety and quality of food products is being emphasized during the programme. Particular attention is on artificial ripening and wax coating of fruits and vegetables using unapproved chemicals.

The event in Delhi has emphasized the collective responsibility in ensuring food safety, with the mantra, “Food Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility” and also the importance of vital role of every stakeholder across the food supply chain in fostering a healthier India.

FSSAI officials say that as the apex food regulator in the country, it remains committed to safeguarding public health through the implementation of robust food safety protocols nationwide.

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