1. Home
  2. News

CCFI Responds to Alleged Pesticide Residues in Indian Spice Exports

Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) urges nuanced consideration amidst evolving regulatory landscapes, addressing legitimate concerns over food safety and international trade standards.

Shivam Dwivedi
Indian Spices (Photo Source: Pexels)
Indian Spices (Photo Source: Pexels)

The Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), an apex trade body for the Indian crop protection industry, has expressed apprehension over recent media reports regarding the detection of ‘pesticide residues’ in certain Indian spice brands exported to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Nature of Alleged Contaminant: Ethylene Oxide

The primary concern highlighted by CCFI pertains to the presence of ‘Ethylene oxide,’ which has been identified in these reports. Notably, Ethylene oxide is not registered as a pesticide in India under the provisions of the Insecticide Act 1968 and its associated rules.

Ethylene oxide is a gas primarily employed as an industrial chemical, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is widely utilized in the production of various chemicals and plays a pivotal role in fumigation and sterilization processes for medical equipment and food items.

Further underscoring the role of Ethylene oxide, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) highlights its versatility as a fundamental compound in battery development for electric vehicles, natural gas purification, and the creation of derivatives crucial for oil and gas well drilling. Moreover, Ethylene oxide is instrumental in sterilizing medical equipment, contributing significantly to preventing disease and infection.

While Ethylene oxide is not classified as a banned product in Singapore, where it is permitted for spice sterilization, the permissible Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) for Ethylene oxide under Singapore’s Food Regulation stands at 50 parts per million (ppm).

Concerns Raised by Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety

Data from Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety indicates that between January and April 2024, Ethylene oxide residues above permissible levels were found in spice samples, including one from India. Notably, media reports have disproportionately highlighted the Indian export amidst a broader global detection pattern.

CCFI has reiterated that Ethylene oxide's primary designation remains industrial and economic, rather than agricultural. Despite its potential carcinogenic properties, likened to alcohol by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), CCFI asserts that applying stringent standards based on parts per million (ppm) could unjustly impede legitimate trade.

India's Culinary Heritage and Export Strength

India, known as the "land of spices," holds the distinction of being the world’s largest producer, consumer, and exporter of various spices. The value of spice exports from India in CY 2023 amounted to $3.7 billion, underscoring the nation's historic and contemporary role in global spice trade.

In response to recent challenges, CCFI emphasizes caution against amplifying isolated incidents into systemic concerns. They urge a balanced approach that respects India's rich agricultural heritage and acknowledges the complexities of global trade dynamics.

International No Diet Day 2024 Quiz Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters