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Nepal bans Indian spice brands Everest and MDH, starts test for ethylene oxide

This action mirrors similar bans enacted by Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

Nepal's Department of Food Technology and Quality Control has prohibited the import, consumption, and sale of two Indian spice brands, Everest and MDH, as reported by ANI News. Nepal has initiates testing the spices for ethylene oxide content. The ban follows reports of elevated levels of ethylene oxide traces found in these products.

The ban was first implemented by Singapore. It recalled Everest Fish Curry Masala, a well-known spice product from India, citing the detection of increased levels of ethylene oxide. Following in the footsteps of Singapore, Hong Kong has also implemented a ban on the sale of renowned Indian spice brands MDH and Everest Food Products. Later, the spice brands came under scrutiny by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Acknowledging the reports, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) deployed state food commissioners and instructed them to collect samples of major spice brands from their manufacturing units across India. 

"Everest and MDH brand spices which are being imported in Nepal have been banned from import. This comes after the news about traces of harmful chemicals in the spices, ban on import was imposed a week earlier and we also have banned the sales of it in the market," Mohan Krishna Maharjan, spokesperson of Nepal's Department of Food Technology and Quality Control told ANI in a telephone conversation.

"Tests are underway for the chemicals in the spices of these two particular brands. The ban will remain in place until the final report comes up. Hong Kong and Singapore already have banned it, this move comes following their move," he added.

In response, the Spice Board of India has initiated measures to guarantee the safety and quality of Indian spice exports to these areas. The board has put into effect the suggestions of the Techno-Scientific Committee, which carried out a root cause analysis, inspected processing facilities, and gathered samples for testing in accredited laboratories.

The organisation has further facilitated a stakeholder consultation, engaging over 130 exporters and associations, including the All India Spices Exporters Forum and the Indian Spice and Foodstuff Exporters' Association. Additionally, the board has disseminated guidelines for ethylene oxide (EtO) treatment to all exporters, aiming to prevent EtO contamination in spices exported from India.

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