FSSAI Clarifies Increase in Pesticide Limits for Spices by 10x

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FSSAI's Decision to Increase Pesticide Limits by 10X

The FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) is responsible for maintaining food safety standards in the country. Recently, they decided to increase the maximum residue limit (MRL) for pesticides found on spices and herbs. This implies that now more quantities of these chemical agents can be retained on these foodstuffs after being treated with pesticides.

It’s quite a big rise because the MRL has been lifted from 0.01 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) to 0.1 mg/kg — this means that now spices and herbs are allowed to contain ten times as much pesticide residue as they could before.

Concerns and Experts’ Opinions

Worried by the possibility of its various effects on the health and export market, much concern has been expressed by experts and activists on the raised MRL.

Dileep Kumar who heads Pesticide Action Network (PAN) showed concern by stating that this decision could mean more Indian spice rejections by international consumers if this leniency remains the same.

Centre for Science and Envirounment’s Amit Khurana cautioned that there was no rational evidence supporting such a policy change adding that it could have very serious health repercussions.

Concerns about International Bans

In recent times, some nations such as Hong Kong, Maldives and Singapore have prohibited the marketing of specific Indian spice labels because they contain high levels of pesticides, particularly ethylene oxide which is a widely known carcinogen. Consequently, this move raises questions over the safety and standard of Indian spices in international trade.

Clarification by FSSAI

To argue its position, the FSSAI made a claim that it follows strict standards and norms while setting MRLs. The decision was reportedly based on evaluations by its Scientific Panel on Pesticide Residues. In addition, the FSSAI has said that this increase is applicable only to pesticides which are not registered in India, and this recommendation came after looking at international standards given by Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Implications for Imports and Domestic Market

The increment of MRL affects not just Indian consumers but also imported items. What FSSAI did when they allowed higher amounts of unregistered chemicals used as pesticide was show that spices brought into the country may have more residue than those produced locally. This raises questions about our food safety and quality controls in relation to global trade.

Food Safety and Awareness

The recent discovery of ethylene oxide in MDH and Everest spice brands highlights why there should be stringent rules on pesticides.This incident coupled with raising MRLs by FSSAI demonstrates how important it is to have robust supervision systems which will guarantee the safety of what we eat.

CBI Arrests FSSAI Official for Bribery

In further development, the CBI arrested an assistant director of the FSSAI, Amol Jagtap along with the director of a private testing lab, Vikas Bhardwaj and two others in Mumbai. The arrests were in connection with a bribery case amounting to ₹1.20 lakh.

The bribery was allegedly for clearing pending bills of the private lab, which is engaged in analysing samples for FSSAI. The CBI seized cash, gold, and documents during searches, and the accused have been remanded to police custody until May 8, 2024.

Sources:

https://thewire.in/government/fssai-increases-permissible-pesticide-levels-in-spices-by-10-times

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/food/fssai-calls-reports-of-allowing-10x-more-mrl-in-herbs-spices-as-false-and-malicious-says-india-has-most-stringent-standards/articleshow/109853239.cms?from=mdr

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/fssai-corruption-cbi-arrests-assistant-director-red-handed-taking-bribe-from-pvt-lab/articleshow/109890584.cms?from=mdr

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