MDH, Everest spice products under Aus-NZ food regulator's lens after action by Hong Kong, Singapore

'We are working with international counterparts to understand the issue'

MDH and Everest masala products

Food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which is responsible for developing food standards for Australia and New Zealand, has initiated an inquiry into possible pesticide contamination of spice powder blends sold by MDH and Everest to decide whether it has to recall the products.

"We are working with international counterparts to understand the issue and with federal, state and territory food enforcement agencies to determine if further action is required in Australia," FSANZ stated. "Ethylene oxide is not permitted to be used as a treatment for foods sold in Australia.”

The move comes after Hong Kong food safety regulator Centre for Food Safety (CFS) ordered recall of three MDH masala powder products – Madras Curry Powder, Mixed Masala Powder and Sambhar Masala Powder – over presence of cancer-causing ethylene oxide, a pesticide. Everest's Fish Curry Masala was also recalled by Hong Kong's CFS and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).

On Tuesday, CFS said the Indian embassy in Hong Kong has been informed "of the test results for follow-up actions."

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday it is collecting information regarding the pesticide presence. Earlier, the US customs had reportedly rejected nearly a third of spice shipments exported by MDH Pvt Ltd due to salmonella contamination over the last six months. Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause diarrhoea and nausea.

In September 2019, had asked MDH to recall its sambhar masala distributed in northern California over salmonella contamination. In June 2023, the FDA had ordered recall of Everest's sambhar masala and garam masala mixes as well as Nestle's Maggi Masala-ae-Magic from 11 states after the products tested positive for salmonella.

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