The Food Safety and Standards of Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked States to focus on “comprehensive and exhaustive” testing of spice product samples on various safety and quality parameters besides ethylene oxide in the ongoing pan-India enforcement drive. Last week, the food safety authority directed States and Union Territories to pick up samples of spices products across brands pan-India for testing. This came after Hong Kong and Singapore announced recall of certain Indian spice products of MDH and Everest.

Sources said these samples are being tested for upto 139 pesticide residues besides various other parameters prescribed by the food safety regulations. The packaged spice product samples are also being tested for nearly seven metal contaminants including lead, arsenic, copper, cadmium and mercury. In terms of biological parameters, the spice samples are being tested for yeast, mold, salmonella and staphylococcus among others.

“The spice samples are being tested on an exhaustive set of safety and quality parameters as prescribed by the food safety regulations. Once the test reports are in and if any spice brand is found to be in violation of these standards, we will definitely take serious action,” an official told businessline.

The spice samples are also being tested for 25 physical parameters and 22 chemical parameters such as total ash, crude fiber and argemone oil among others. In terms of food additives, the spice sample products are being tested for Sorbates, Neotame and Sulfites among others.

Sources said that FSSAI has already begun receiving the first set of test reports of samples picked up by states from major manufacturing facilities of packaged spice companies.

Earlier last month, Hong Kong had recalled three products of MDH and one product of Everest over alleged presence of ethylene oxide. Following this, Singapore recalled one product of MDH. Ethylene Oxide is prohibited to be used even as a fumigant in India.

MDH and Everest in their statements released last month have maintained that their products are safe for consumption.