FSSAI increases pesticide residue levels in herbs, spices

The limit for spices was increased to 0.1 g/kg

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FSSAI
The previous levels were 0.01 mg/kg. Photo iStock

FSSAI, India’s apex food safety regulator agreed to a ten-fold increase in the maximum level of pesticide residue allowed in spices and herbs. It will be applicable in cases where the limits are not defined in Indian or international regulations. The default limit for spices was increased to 0.1 g/kg, as against the previous 0.01 mg/kg. The default MRL for other food products remains the same at 0.01 mg/kg.

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), for pesticides that are registered with the Ministry of Agriculture but don’t have maximum residue limits (MRL), the global Codex Alimentarius Commission standards will be used. If it is not mentioned in the Codex, then the MRL of 0.1 mg/ Kg will be followed. For pesticides that aren’t registered with the Ministry of Agriculture at all, the MRL of 0.1 mg/ kg will be applicable.

Recently, some Indian spice mixes were removed from shelves in Singapore and Hong Kong after higher than allowed limit of a pesticide ethylene oxide was found. A nationwide special drive was launched to test all brands of spice and spice mixes available in the domestic market.

An expert from the scientific advisory committee that recommended the move told The Indian Express, that even at higher 0.1 mg/Kg it is a trace amount and unlikely to harm human health. Deciding MRL is a dynamic exercise based on the results of field trials submitted by spice manufacturers to the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB&RC). The limits are decided and revised based on data from the field trials and available evidence on the impact of pesticides on human health.

A statement from the government said the total pesticides registered by CIB & RC in India are more than 295 out of which 139 pesticides are registered for use in spices. Codex has adopted a total of 243 pesticides out of which 75 pesticides are applicable for spices.

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