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Issues Related to the Presence of Ethylene Oxide in Sesame Seeds and Spices

Since September 2020, more than 500 notifications concerning the presence of ethylene oxide at a level exceeding the MRL set in Regulation (EC) 396/2005 have been published in the FASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) portal by many countries.  Ethylene oxide is banned for the treatment of food in the European Union.  Many of the notifications concern sesame seeds or products containing them, but the alerts also include other products such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, onion, and various spice blends.  Based on available information, most of the contaminated ingredients come from India but other countries are included as well.  The health authorities of Member States have implemented numerous withdrawal and / or recall measures for products containing contaminated raw materials.  Article 19 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 prohibits the use of raw materials that do not comply with the MRL in the production of processed products.

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Picture Credit Susanne Kuehne

Posted on 7 April 2021