The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), which undertook a pan-India testing drive of key spice brands, found no traces of ethylene oxide (EtO) in spice samples, as per officials. This extensive testing of spice brands was done after food safety regulators of Hong Kong and Singapore had recalled certain spice products of Everest and MDH over presence of EtO beyond permissible limits last month.

Sources said nine samples of Everest spices were collected from their two manufacturing facilities in Maharashtra and Gujarat. At the same time, 25 samples were picked up from 11 manufacturing facilities of MDH in Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan. Each of the product samples was analysed for compliance with quality parameters and safety parameters, including heavy metals, aflatoxins, pesticide residues), microbiological parameters, additives besides Ethylene Oxide. This analysis was done at NABL accredited laboratories notified by FSSAI.

Test reports

Out of these test reports of 28 samples have been received while reports of six samples are awaited. Officials said these lab reports were examined by the Scientific Panel at FSSAI and the samples indicated no traces of EtO. Meanwhile, test reports of over 300 samples of spices of other brands collected across the country were also examined and indicated no presence of ethylene oxide.

Scientists from Spice Board, Indian Spice Research Institute, CSMCRI (Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute), NIFTEM (National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management), BARC (Mumbai), DRDO (Assam), ICAR, National Research Centre on Grapes are part of the Scientific Panel.

FSSAI had directed food safety commissioners across states and UTs to conduct pan-India sampling and testing drive on April 22. This included extensive inspections of the spice manufacturing units and also sampling and testing of products manufactured for selling as well distribution for consumption in the domestic market.


There is no international standard for EtO, which is used as fumigant for sterilising spices to deal with microbial contamination. Different countries fix their own MRLs for pesticides based on their country-specific good agricultural practices (GAP) and dietary consumption patterns.

Spice Board has made it mandatory for export shipment to undergo testing for EtO residues to Singapore and Hong Kong starting May 7, 2024. It also came out with guidelines for preventing EtO contamination for export consignments earlier this month.