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ETHYLENE OXIDE IN SPICES



  May 16, 2024

ETHYLENE OXIDE IN SPICES



1. What is ethylene oxide (ETO)?

Ethylene oxide is a chemical compound used primarily as a sterilizing agent. It is used in the spice industry to reduce microbial contamination but is considered carcinogenic if used beyond certain limits.

2. Why is the Spices Board discussing ETO limits with CODEX?

The Spices Board of India has raised the issue with CODEX, an international food standards body, to establish uniform global limits for ETO usage in spices. This initiative follows incidents where spices exported from India to Hong Kong and Singapore were recalled due to ETO contamination concerns.

3. What challenges are associated with ETO usage in spices?

The primary challenge is the lack of international standard limits for ETO usage, which leads to discrepancies in regulations across different countries. Additionally, there is no standardized method for testing ETO levels in spices, complicating compliance and safety assurances.

4. What steps has the Spices Board taken to ensure the safety of spice exports?

To ensure the safety and quality of spice exports, particularly to Hong Kong and Singapore, the Spices Board has mandated testing of spice consignments for ETO contamination before they are shipped to these countries.

5. What is the significance of ETO in the context of global spice trade?

ETO's role as a sterilizing agent helps ensure the microbiological safety of spices, which is crucial for maintaining market access and consumer trust internationally. However, due to its carcinogenic properties, its use needs to be carefully controlled and monitored.

6. How significant are India’s spice exports globally?

In the fiscal year 2023-24, India exported spices valued at $4.25 billion, which accounts for a 12% share of global spice exports, highlighting its significant role in the international spice market.



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