Dubai Municipality to ‘look into’ claims of some Indian spice brands containing adulterants

Food safety authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore banned four spice products from popular Indian brands after finding they contained a harmful substance


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 29 Apr 2024, 6:48 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 7:34 AM

Amid international media reports that certain popular spices may contain carcinogens, Dubai Municipality (DM) has confirmed to Khaleej Times that “they are fully aware” of the news and are investigating it.

“The regular, routine testing that we perform on all food items in the country did not reveal anything that should be a cause of concern,” said a statement by Dubai Municipality. “However, we are fully aware of the global notification and recalls and routine protocols will be followed.”

The Indian spice brands in question were found to contain traces of ethylene oxide above the permissible levels in some countries around the world, a substance that is acceptable in moderate amounts. However, in the UAE, it is completely banned.

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The statement by DM further elaborated what steps are being taken regarding the incident. “We perform risk assessment and laboratory testing among other steps before we take decisions. Any concern will be addressed to ensure that public health is protected,” it read.

Usually, directive to recall harmful items and investigations about such claims are handled by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCC). Khaleej Times has reached out to the MOCC and is awaiting a response.

Last week, food safety authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore banned four spice products from popular Indian brands after finding they contained a cancer-causing substance, Ethylene Oxide. Used as a fumigant in spices to kill bacteria and fungi, the substance is regulated because of its properties that cause cancer.

Meanwhile, at least one of the concerned brands has issued a statement denying the accusation, saying they adhere to stringent health and safety standards. India’s regulator, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has begun its own investigation since the news.

Meanwhile, food safety authorities in the European Union (EU) also revealed that they found ethylene oxide in 527 Indian products, including herbs and spices. These were found during tests conducted by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) between September 2020 and April 2024.

A spokesperson for the civic body said the it is waiting for updates from various stakeholders and will update the public as well as media when they have more information and clarity about the situation.

Inputs from Ajanta Paul


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