Spices imported from India ‘could be contaminated’

Indian spices
Indian spices - Shutterstock

Spices from India on sale in British stores may be contaminated, the food standards watchdog has warned.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has applied for extra controls on all spices being imported from India after safety concerns over pesticide residue in two brands.

Last month, Hong Kong stopped sales of three spice blends made by MDH and one made by Everest, citing high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide ethylene oxide in the products.

Natasha Smith, deputy director of food policy at the FSA, said: “In light of concerns, earlier this year we applied extra control measures for pesticide residues in spices from India which include ethylene oxide.

“The use of ethylene oxide is not allowed here, and maximum levels [maximum residue levels] are in place for herbs and spices.  If there is any unsafe food or food on the market, the FSA will take rapid action to ensure consumers are protected.”

‘Maximum residue levels in place’

The US Food and Drug Administration is also investigating products from the two brands over contamination concerns, according to Reuters.

A Reuters analysis of the US regulatory data from 2021 found that 14.5 per cent of MDH shipments to the US were rejected because bacteria was present.

The European Union has raised concerns after discovering a cancer-causing substance in samples of chilli peppers and peppercorns from India. The Maldives, Bangladesh and Australian food regulators have also launched investigations, according to reports.

MDH and Everest were contacted for comment.