Australia’s national food standards agency is looking into the possible contamination of spices manufactured by Indian brands Everest and MDH.

In a statement sent to Just Food, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) said it was “working with our international counterparts to understand the issue with federal, state and territory food enforcement agencies”.

FSANZ did not confirm how long it expected the process would take but noted it was necessary to decide whether “further action”, such as a recall, was needed.

The move comes as food safety agencies in Hong Kong and Singapore issued recalls on three spice mixes from the brands last month.

Singapore has suspended the sale of an Everest fish curry mix, while Hong Kong has forbidden sales of the same product, as well as three MDH spice blends.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety said it had found traces of the pesticide ethylene oxide in samples taken from three retailers in its Tsim Sha Tsui district.

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The Singapore Food Agency also said it found evidence of the chemical “at levels exceeding [the] permissible limit”.

While ethylene oxide is allowed in the sterilisation of agricultural goods, it “is not authorised for use in food”, said the Singaporean food safety body.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration also announced plans to investigate a potential contamination in Everest and MDH’s spices sold in the country.

Speaking to the news agency Reuters, an FDA spokesperson said that the group was “aware of the reports and is gathering additional information about the situation”.

Just Food has contacted the FDA for more information.

Everest is based in Mumbai, while MDH is headquartered in Delhi. Both produce blended and grounded spices, among other products, which are supplied worldwide.

MDH released a statement on X on Sunday (28 April), denying the contamination claims.

The ground spices producer said: “We clarify and state unequivocally that these claims are untrue and lack any substantiating evidence.

“Additionally, MDH has not received any communication from regulatory authorities of Singapore or Hong Kong. Our statement is further supported by the fact that nodal regulatory authorities such as the Spice Board of India and FSSAl have not received any communication or test reports from Hong Kong or Singapore authorities regarding this matter. This reinforces the fact that the allegations against MDH are baseless, unsubstantiated, and not backed by any concrete evidence.”

They added: “We reassure our buyers and consumers that we do not use Ethylene Oxide (ETO) at any stage of storing, processing, or packing our spices.”

Everest did not respond to Just Food‘s request for comment at the time of writing.