New Zealand looking into presence of ‘cancer-causing’ agent in certain MDH & Everest spices

New Delhi: New Zealand has joined the growing list of countries monitoring spice products manufactured by Indian spice giants MDH and Everest over the alleged presence of a ‘cancer-causing’ agent.

Last month, Food regulators in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia warned against using certain products from MDH and Everest over the presence of ethylene oxide at “levels exceeding the permissible limit”.

Now, New Zealand Food Safety has joined their concerns, according to reports.

“We are aware of the issue. As MDH and Everest spices are also available in New Zealand, we are looking into it,” Vincent Arbuckle, deputy director-general of New Zealand Food Safety, a government body in the Ministry of Primary Industries, was quoted as saying in local media.

Ethylene oxide may raise the risk of breast cancer, as well as cause damage to the DNA, the brain, and the nervous system.

Although some countries still use ethylene oxide, a 2001 study in New Zealand found the “residues of ethylene oxide in spices did not represent a significant human health risk because of the low concentrations,” Arbuckle was quoted as saying in a report in Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

Last month, Spices Board, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, issued a statement, saying that as a proactive measure to address the concerns regarding Ethylene Oxide (ETO) contamination in spice products, “Spices Board, in consultation with the spice industry, has decided to commence mandatory ETO testing in spice consignments exported for Singapore and Hong Kong”.

It added that all spice consignments, including ready-to-eat products destined to Singapore and Hong Kong, shall be accompanied with a cleared analytical report for ETO issued by the Spices Board.

According to earlier reports, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was also monitoring the Indian spice recalls.

Both MDH and Everest have said their products are safe for consumption.

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