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Food Authority Refutes Baseless Claims of High Pesticide Residue in Spices

May 6, 2024

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), on Sunday, refuted the reports in the media, claiming that the board permits higher levels of pesticide residue in herbs and spices. As per the reports, FSSAI allegedly allows 10 times more pesticide residue in Indian herbs and spices. In an official statement released by the apex regulatory body, they claimed it as “false and malicious”, emphasizing India has one of the most stringent Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) standards in the world. This comes amid the reports of the ban imposed by Hong Kong’s food regulator on some spice mixes of two leading Indian brands – MDH and Everest – on the alleged presence of pesticide ethylene oxide in their samples.

The press statement by FSSAI further emphasized that the Maximum Residue Limits of pesticides are decided differently for different commodities, based on their risk assessments, the dietary habits of the Indians, and health concerns. In fact, the MRLs are subject to regular revision based on scientific data, aligning with global standards.

“FSSAI’s standards are in line with global standards set by Codex,” it added. For the uninitiated, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (commonly referred to as Codex) is the body established to develop food standards under the ‘Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organisation Food Standards Programme’.

Pesticide regulation in India is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, through the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC). This was established to supervise the manufacturing, import, transportation, and storage of pesticides, as well as their registration, banning, or restriction. The CIB & RC has a list of registered pesticides that could be used on foods prepared and manufactured in India. As per reports, the committee has registered more than 295 pesticides to date, out of which 139 are specifically approved for use in spices.

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