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MDH rejects claims of cancer-causing agents in its spices

United States customs authorities have rejected 31% of all spice-related shipments from MDH over the last six months due to concerns about salmonella contamination, Indian Express reported

MDH rejects claims of cancer-causing agents in its spices
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

India’s leading spice brand MDH has denied the claims of the presence of cancer-causing agent ethylene oxide (ETO) in its products.

“Amidst speculations doing round that there is presence of ETO in our products, we clarify and state unequivocally that these claims are untrue and lack any substantiating evidence,” Mahashian Di Hatti (MDH) said in a statement.

Earlier, Hong Kong suspended sales of three MDH spice blends after it found the presence of ETO beyond the permissible limit. The regulator also suspended sales of spice mix for fish curries from another Indian brand, Everest. Later, Singapore also ordered a recall of Everest spice mix for containing high levels of ETO. 

ETO, a chemical used in pesticides, is used in a small dose to preserve spices for longer periods. Its consumption beyond a certain limit increases the risk of cancer.  

MDH said the company has not received any communication from regulatory authorities of Singapore or Hong Kong. 

“Our statement is further supported by the fact that nodal regulatory authorities such as the Spice Board of India and FSSAl have not received any communication or test reports from Hong Kong or Singapore authorities regarding this matter,” it said. 

MDH’s statement came amid reports that Hong Kong and Singapore authorities claimed carcinogenic pesticides exceeded acceptable limits.

Meanwhile, the United States customs authorities have rejected 31% of all spice-related shipments from MDH over the last six months due to concerns about salmonella contamination. Food and water are significant sources of salmonella bacteria contamination, which leads to diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, and melena.

Since October 2023, 11 shipments consisting of one-third of all MDH shipments carrying spices, flavors, and salts have been rejected, The Indian Express reported. 

The data shows that in 11 months, from October 2022 to September 2023, the refusal rate was 15%, and the reason for this rejection was due to salmonella contamination. 

MDH said the allegations against it are baseless, unsubstantiated, and not backed by any concrete evidence. 

“We reassure our buyers and consumers that we do not use Ethylene Oxide (ETO) at any stage of storing, processing, or packing our spices. Our impressive 105-year old legacy of providing high-quality products, emphasizes our dedication in maintaining the trust of our consumers,” the company said.

“MDH’s commitment to quality and safety shines through in our dedication to upholding the standards set by our late founding chairman, Mahashay Dharampal Gulati Ji whose legacy is being carried forwards by his son Mahashay Rajeev Gulati Ji Chairman MDH Group Their ethos of only promoting and selling products that they themselves would consume underscores the company’s unwavering focus on producing safe and healthy spices,” it added. 

Food and Drugs Authority of India (FDA) noted in January 2022 that the MDH manufacturing plant lacked sanitary facilities and accommodations, and the equipment and utensils were not designed and constructed to be adequately cleaned or maintained to protect against contamination.  

From 2021 to 2023, around 10% of rejected food shipments from India were in the spices, flavors, and salts category, second only to miscellaneous food-related items, which comprised 31% of total refusals, while the refusal percentage in snacks and bakery products was 9%, and 5%, respectively. 


Kaumudi Kashikar-Gurjar is an Associate Editor at Press Insider. Based in Pune, Kaumudi is a resourceful writer and a trained multimedia journalist who covers business and economy. Formerly the bureau chief at Sakal Times and Mid Day, Kaumudi has written extensively on politics and governance over her career spanning 20 years for publications including the Pune Mirror. More

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