Spice alert: Cancer-causing chemical detected in MDH and Everest products


Hong Kong’s food safety watchdog has banned four spice products from popular Indian brands MDH and Everest after finding they contained a cancer-causing chemical.

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) announced on April 5 that it detected ethylene oxide, a pesticide classified as a carcinogen, in three MDH products – Madras Curry Powder, Mixed Masala Powder, and Sambhar Masala – and Everest’s Fish Curry Masala.

The CFS said it collected samples of the four products under its routine food surveillance programme and found the presence of ethylene oxide, which is unsuitable for human consumption. Hong Kong regulations prohibit the sale of food containing pesticide residues exceeding safe limits.

“According to the Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM), a food for human consumption containing pesticide residue may only be sold if consumption of the food is not dangerous or prejudicial to health,” CFS report said.

The CFS ordered vendors to remove the affected products from shelves and has launched an investigation. The regulator also indicated that “appropriate action” may be taken.

Following Hong Kong’s lead, Singapore’s Food Agency (SFA) also recalled Everest’s Fish Curry Masala due to exceeding permissible levels of ethylene oxide.

While SFA clarified there is no immediate risk from low levels of ethylene oxide, prolonged consumption could pose health risks due to the chemical’s carcinogenic properties.

MDH and Everest have not yet publicly addressed the reports of carcinogens in their products.