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FSSAI to Check if MDH, Everest Spice Mixes are Putting You at Risk of Cancer



FSSAI to Check if MDH, Everest Spice Mixes are Putting You at Risk of Cancer

Spices are an essential part of Indian cuisine, adding flavor and depth to our favorite dishes. However, recent concerns have emerged regarding the safety of spice mixes available in the market. The Food Safety and Standards of Authority India (FSSAI) has initiated testing of various brands of powdered spices to determine if they contain cancer-causing chemicals. This comes after Hong Kong and Singapore withdrew four spice mixes from two prominent Indian manufacturers, MDH and Everest, due to high levels of ethylene oxide contamination.

Understanding Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide is a pesticide classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This means that there is sufficient evidence from human studies to suggest its potential to cause cancer. Traditionally, the spice industry has used ethylene oxide to reduce microbial contamination, such as E. coli and Salmonella, in spice mixes. It is a colorless, highly flammable gas with a sweet odor, known for its ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Ethylene oxide is derived from fossil fuels, such as petroleum or natural gas, and is widely used in various industrial processes.

The Health Risks of Ethylene Oxide

Consuming foods containing ethylene oxide can have adverse effects on your health. While occasional, low-level exposure may pose minimal risk, the chronic and persistent exposure to spices and spice blends can increase the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer, including leukemia, stomach cancer, and breast cancer. Additionally, ethylene oxide exposure can lead to respiratory irritation, lung injury, and various other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and shortness of breath.

Contaminated Spice Mixes: MDH and Everest Under Scrutiny

The recent withdrawal of spice mixes by Hong Kong and Singapore has raised concerns about the safety of Indian spice brands, particularly MDH and Everest. These two manufacturers are now being investigated by the FSSAI for their alleged use of ethylene oxide in their products. Ethylene oxide is strictly prohibited by the FSSAI, regardless of its use as a fumigant and germicide in prolonging the shelf life of food products. The FSSAI aims to ensure the safety of products consumed by the Indian population, and if found guilty, appropriate actions will be taken against the manufacturers under the Food Safety Act.

Ethylene Oxide Bans and Regulations

While the use of ethylene oxide has been restricted in many countries, it is important to understand the regulations surrounding its use. In Germany, ethylene oxide was permitted as a plant protection and disinfectant until 1981, and in the rest of the European Union (EU) until 1991. However, its use for fumigating food and animal feed in order to protect them from fungal and bacterial attacks during transport and storage was permitted until 2011. Since then, all applications of ethylene oxide in food and feed have been banned in the EU. The use of ethylene oxide is now limited to disinfection and sterilization purposes outside the food sector, such as the sterilization of medical devices.

Ensuring Safe Spice Consumption

As consumers, it is important to prioritize our health and make informed choices about the products we consume. With the ongoing investigation into the safety of spice mixes, it is recommended to exercise caution and avoid the identified products entirely until further testing and remediation efforts are undertaken by the brands involved. Seek alternative spice sources with transparent safety profiles. It is crucial to read product labels, look for certifications, and choose brands that prioritize quality and adhere to food safety regulations. By staying informed and making conscious choices, we can protect ourselves from potential health risks associated with contaminated spice mixes.


The recent concerns surrounding the presence of ethylene oxide in spice mixes highlight the importance of food safety and regulation. The FSSAI’s initiative to test various brands of powdered spices is a step in the right direction to ensure the well-being of consumers. While the investigation is underway, it is advisable for individuals to be vigilant and seek out safe alternatives. By taking control of our spice choices and opting for brands that prioritize quality and adhere to food safety standards, we can enjoy flavorful meals without compromising our health. Remember, your well-being is in your hands, so make informed choices and spice up your life safely!