The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is learnt to have asked some spice brands to stop the sale of certain batches of their products after receiving adverse lab reports. The food safety authority initiated a pan-India sampling and exhaustive testing drive of various spice brands on April 22.

This comes at a time when Indian spice brands are under heightened scrutiny from FSSAI as well as some international regulators. “Over 4,000 samples of spices were picked up as part of the pan-India testing drive. We have received lab reports of about 2,000 samples. About 100 samples failed on certain parameters such as pesticides. These food business operators have been asked to stop sale of batches of their products that failed the tests,” officials told businessline.

Can appeal decision

As per procedures, these brands can appeal this decision and request the samples to be retested at a referral laboratory notified by FSSAI.

Recently, Rajasthan officials flagged concerns about pesticides found in higher-than-permissible levels in samples of some spice brands, including Everest and MDH. According to agency reports, Rajasthan has begun recalling “impugned batches” of the product samples that were found to be unsafe due to very high levels of pesticides. Sources said adverse lab reports have also been received from some other states.

The FSSAI kicked off this testing and sampling drive after food safety regulators in Hong Kong and Singapore recalled certain products of spice brands MDH and Everest due to higher-than-permissible levels of ethylene oxide found in some samples of these brands’ products.

In May, FSSAI said that 28 of 34 lab reports showed no traces of ETO. Sources said no traces of ETO were found in the remaining six lab reports, too.

These samples were also tested for pesticide residues, metal contaminants, and biological, physical and chemical parameters.