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India ensures food safety in spices


The Government of India, through Spices Board, has been ensuring the quality and safety of spices and spice products exported from India. The mandate of Spices Board is to promote export of spices and spice products and the board works towards improving the quality and the safety aspects of spices in collaboration with the farmers and industry.

Spices Board does mandatory checking before shipment for all the spices for various parameters. Export Inspection Agency (EIA) does mandatory inspection for pepper as promulgated under an agreement with the USFDA. All spices, including black pepper exported from India to the US undergo mandatory inspection for various quality and food safety parameters by the Export Inspection Agency under the Govt. of India and testing for Salmonella being one of them. Approximately 14,500 shipments are sent to the US from India every year and the total number of Salmonella alerts in is roughly below 2 percent per year for over 200 spices and spices products in whole, ground, powdered, blended and mixed forms. Indian spices shipped to the US are tested and found Salmonella absent to the extent of 98.5 percent. This is based on import alerts and refusals data published by USFDA.

Indian Government, through Spices Board, has been bringing in many innovative reforms to tackle the limitations on hygiene, quality and other issues. At the national level, Indian Government has implemented GAP/Good Manufacturing Practices(GMP) focused on sustainability, traceability and food safety. Training of spice growers and technical personnel from the spice processing industry, both in the field and at the processing/ laboratory levels, have been a regular feature. At the international level, the Codex initiatives on spices is have been undertaken to address quality and safety concerns with an aim to ensure fair practices in spice trade keeping in mind the safety of consumers.

India is now in a joint venture with the USFDA for having a Collaborative Training Programme. The Collaborative Training Programme with the USFDA in which experts from FDA’s Centre for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) partnered with the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) and Spices Board in September 2012 presented a week-long training programme in Cochin, India. More than 70 participants from India’s government, industry, universities and trade groups gathered to learn about effective methods for ensuring food safety for spices and botanicals (plant parts and extracts).

The decision of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in August 2013 to destroy 900 tonnes of pepper worth crores of rupees which was found to be unfit for human consumption was made to ensure the good health of the consumers and proves India’s credibility in trade.