FSSAI refutes claims of rising permissible pesticide levels in spices by 10 times

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Iethylene oxide in spices

After some media report claimed that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has allowed 10 times more pesticide residue in herbs and spices, the FSSAI said such reports are false and malicious.

“It is clarified that India has one of the most stringent standards of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in the world and MRLs of pesticides are fixed differently for different food commodities based on their risk assessments”, said FSSAI.

The FSSAI said that the Scientific Panel on Pesticides Residues of the agency examines the data received through CIB & RC and recommends the MRLs after performing risk assessment considering the dietary consumption of Indian population and health concerns in respect of all age groups.

“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 total 243 pesticides out of which 75 pesticides are applicable for spices”, it said in a statement.

“The MRL of 0.01 mg/kg was applicable in case of pesticides for which MRLs have not been fixed. This limit was increased to 0.1 mg/kg only in cases of spices and is applicable only for those pesticides which are not registered in India by CIB & RC. This was recommended by Scientific Panel on Pesticide Residues (includes member from CIB & RC and project coordinator of Monitoring of Pesticide Residue at National Level MPRNL, under Ministry of Agriculture) after considering the adoption of MRLs in the range 0.1 mg/kg and above by Codex Alimantarius Commission on Pesticide Residues on spices during 2021-23 in a phased manner for various spices in the world (MRLs fixed by CODEX for spices & culinary herbs ranges from 0.1 to 80 mg/kg)”, the FSSAI has clarified.

Meanwhile, highlighting the report, doctor criticised that instead of making the companies reduce the present pesticide level, the beyond intelligent governance has increased the level of limit of pesticides allowed in spice-food products.

“One pesticide/insecticide is used in more than 10 crops with different MRLs. For example, Flubendiamide is used in Brinjal with an MRL of 0.1 whereas for Bengal Gram the MRL is 1.0 mg/kg, for Cabbage 4 mg/kg, for Tomato 2 mg/kg and for Tea it is 50 mg/kg. Similarly, Monocrotophos used for food grains with MRLs at 0.03 mg/kg, for citrus fruits 0.2 mg/kg, for dried chilli it is 2 mg/kg and for Cardamom 0.5 mg/kg”, the FSSAI said.