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FSSAI cancels manufacturing licences of 111 spice firms

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NEW DELHI : India’s top food regulator has cancelled the manufacturing licences of 111 spice makers since last month, asking them to stop production with immediate effect, according to two officials aware of the matter.

The action from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) comes after samples of spices from India were found to have more than the permissible levels of ethylene oxide, a cancer-causing pesticide, in some overseas markets recently.

FSSAI has taken action after finding that recent spice samples from India contained ethylene oxide levels exceeding permissible limits in some overseas markets. The regulator has already canceled the licences of 111 spice manufacturers, with the possibility of more cancellations as it continues testing 4,000 samples nationwide. These samples include products from well-known brands such as Everest, MDH, Catch, and Badshah, among others.

“So far, the food regulatory body has tested 2,200 samples; out of those, 111 spice makers couldn’t match the basic standard quality of product. The licence of such spice manufacturers has been already scrapped with immediate effect and production has been stopped,” an official told Mint on condition of anonymity.

The person further added, “Currently, the testing centres under FSSAI are less in number and hence it is taking time to come up with the list of companies whose licenses need to be cancelled. The process of testing is still going on and the body is keeping an eye on the rest of the manufacturers as well.”

According to the officials, the majority of the canceled licences belong to small spice makers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, with companies from Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh also under scrutiny. Most of these 111 companies are small-scale and could not be contacted as they lack official websites, contact numbers, or email IDs.

Earlier this year, renowned Indian spice makers such as MDH and Everest came under scrutiny in overseas markets, including the US, Hong Kong, and Singapore, due to quality concerns.

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