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False and malicious: FSSAI refutes reports of allowing 10 times more pesticide residue in spices, says India’s standards strictest in the world

"Some media reports are claiming that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allows ten times more pesticide residue in herbs and spices. Such reports are false and malicious," FSSAI said in the press release.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has refuted media reports claiming that it allowed 10 times more pesticide residues in herbs and spices.

The food safety regulator issued a press note Terming the reports “false and malicious”, and asserted 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.

“Some media reports are claiming that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allows ten times more pesticide residue in herbs and spices. Such reports are false and malicious,” FSSAI said in the press release.

Notably, on 4 April, The Economic Times published a report claiming that FSSAI has allowed 10 times more pesticide residue in herbs and spices. Citing an order issued by regular on 8 April, the report said that FSSAI has raised the maximum residue limit (MRL) for a pesticide in herbs and spices to 0.1mg/kg from the earlier 0.01mg/kg.

The report further claimed that the regulator cited “various representations” for this upward revision in MRL. The Economic Times report by Shambhavi Anand was then reproduced by almost every other media house yesterday, triggering outrage against FSSAI and the govt in social media amid the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

But now, FSSAI has clarified that it has issued no such order to increase pesticide residue in herbs and spices. Responding to the claim of increasing the limit from 0.1mg/kg from the earlier 0.01mg/kg, FSSAI said that maximum allowed residue limits are different for different food commodities, it is not uniform across all products, as the report suggested.

For instance, the use of Monocrotophos is allowed on many crops with different MRLs such as Rice at 0.03 mg/kg, Citrus fruits at 0.2 mg/kg, Coffee beans at 0.1 mg/kg and Cardamom 0.5 mg/kg, Chilli at 0.2 mg/kg.

FSSAI added that 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 and RC, it said.

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 MRLs are dynamic in nature and regularly revised based on the scientific data. This practice is aligned with global standards and ensures that MRL revisions are made on a scientifically valid basis, reflecting the latest findings and international norms,” FSSAI said.

The press released said that in India, pesticides are regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA and FW) through Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB and RC) constituted under Insecticide Act,1968. The CIB and RC regulate the manufacturing, import, transport, storage of pesticides and accordingly the Pesticides are registered/banned/restricted.

The Scientific Panel on Pesticides Residues of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) examines the data received through CIB and 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, FSSAI said.

Total pesticides registered by CIB and 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, FSSAI said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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