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23 April 2024

Housewives worry over cancer-causing chilli powder

By V M Sathish

Indian housewives in the UAE and other Gulf states are worried about reports that a major Indian curry powder brand exported to the Middle East has been found to contain a substance suspected to cause cancer.

Eastern Condiments’ factory at Neeliyampeth in Kerala was raided and 1200 kilos of chilli powder contaminated with ‘Sudan dye’ was confiscated.  Spices Board of India officials found unreasonably high levels of  the additive ‘Sudan4’ in consignments of ‘Eastern’ curry powder set for export. The confiscated curry powder was destroyed at the company’s premises in the presence of Spices Board officials.

There are stories and video footages in the social media and youtube showing officials destroying and burying the contaminated curry powder cartons.

Following the raids on November 9, 2011, the samples seized by Spices Board officials were sent for further chemical examination, which indicated that each kilogramme of Eastern chilly powder contained 14 microgrammes of Sudan 4.

Sudan dyes are red dyes used for colouring oils, waxes, petrol and shoe and floor polishes. Some reports suggest that it can cause cancer and it is banned for use in food products in some countries.

Eastern curry powders are widely distributed in the UAE and other Gulf countries, where the large number of Indian expatriates use the company’s products daily. “I am confused about the social media reports about Eastern curry powder which I use often. It is better that dealers here address customer concerns,” said Asha Jacob, an Indian housewife in Dubai.

A report by the Spices Board of India confirms that a consignment of Eastern brand chilli powder was found with an overdose of Sudan 4.

Eastern curry powder’s brand manager in the UAE did not respond to Emirates 24|7 queries about the problem and officials of Jaleel Trading, the product’s wholesale distributor in the UAE, too did not respond to Emirates 24|7 queries.

According to Navas Meeran, an Eastern Condiments Pvt Ltd official, the reports in the social media are misleading. He denied that there was any raid on the company’s premises. In a letter addressed to customers, he said the company manufactures 1.1 million packets of curry powder for the domestic and international market and it is an ISO certified company. “The company’s products for the domestic market are inspected by the Food Authority of India and the international export consignment is tested by the Spices Board of India. As part of internal quality protocol, we destroy products which are not up to the standard and such products never enter the market, domestic or international,” he said in a letter addressed to Eastern curry powder customers.

“Don’t believe this malicious campaign and continue to use Eastern curry powder,” said the statement, widely distributed through the social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.


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