India’s Rajasthan recalls popular MDH, Everest spices over safety claims

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India’s western state of Rajasthan has started recalling some batches of popular MDH and Everest spices, which were found to be unsafe for consumption, a top official said, the latest in growing domestic and global scrutiny of the brands.

Rajasthan told the federal government in a letter it found a batch of Everest’s cumin powder and a batch each of two MDH spice blends unsafe after tests, Reuters reported on Thursday.

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Those batches are now being recalled, senior state health official Shubhra Singh said.

The action is the most stringent move from an Indian authority after Hong Kong in April suspended sales of three spice blends produced by MDH and one by Everest, saying they contained high levels of a cancer-causing pesticide ethylene oxide, triggering scrutiny by regulators globally.

MDH and Everest, whose spices are among the most popular in India and are also sold in Europe, Asia and North America, have said their products are safe for consumption.

"Rajasthan has started recalling ... only the impugned batches are being recalled," Singh told Reuters, adding that officials at the district level were ensuring the recall instructions are implemented.

MDH and Everest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After Hong Kong’s move, Singapore had also ordered a recall of the Everest mix. New Zealand, the United States and Australia have said they were looking into the issues. Britain has applied extra controls on all spices entering from India, the world’s biggest exporter, producer and consumer of spices.

Rajasthan last week said it had seized 12,000 kilograms of various spices for alleged contamination, and found that some contained a "very high level" of pesticide and insecticides.

India’s domestic market for spices was valued at $10.44 billion in 2022, according to Zion Market Research.

India’s federal food safety agency has also tested spice products after the controversy, but no results have so far been made public.

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India inspects spice companies over cancer-causing pesticide claims

India widens spices crackdown with nationwide checks on all manufacturers

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