Eastern chili powder adulterated with poison
Harish Vasudevan & Niranjalli Varma
Kochi: Eastern curry powder, a common name in most households, the taste maker and respite of many homemakers who produce delicious lip smacking delicacies, was found to have been producing chili powder that is laced with Sudan IV- a deadly poison. Sudan IV is a fat-soluble dye used for staining. It has the appearance of reddish brown crystals. Sudan IV have been classified as category 3 carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. As a food dye Sudan IV is considered an illegal dye, mainly because of its harmful effect over a long period of time. It was ruled unsafe in the 1995 food safety regulations report.
The dangerous deadly chemical ‘Sudan IV’ was detected in the Eastern Chili powder by the Kochi Spices Board authority while they were conducting raids on the premises of Eastern Condiments Private Limited, export wing at Neeliyabathy. This tainted Eastern Chili powder were to be exported to the United States. As per reports, authorities detected 14 micro-gram of Sudan IV in every 1 Kg of the chili powder that was seized on November 9, 2011. Following this the 1200 kilograms of chili powder that was seized by authorities was buried at the Kothamangalam Eastern factory in the presence of officials. The raids were conducted by a team of officials, lead by Spices Board food inspector K. George Kumar, Abdul Jaleel and Biju. P. Jose. It is reported that team of officials had received information, from international regulatory sources on adulterated chili powders exported by Eastern Condiments. Raids were conducted based on these reports.
However the company went on to reassure its customers on its facebook page that any such information was false in an attempt to tarnish the image of the company. They also claimed that they produced goods high quality. They justified themselves both in English and Malayalam. They have not rejected the fact that a raid was conducted however, they refuse to comment on the discovery of adulterants and that the adulterated chili powder was buried. This matter does not go unnoticed.
The adulteration of food with Sudan dye IV is considered to be a criminal act. After empirical studies and successive studies conducted on experimental rats it was found that the dye could cause malignant tumor. Sudan dyes are red dyes that are used for colouring solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, and shoe and floor polishes. It is even added to petrol and oil to give it a red colour.
Eastern Condiments Private Limited is currently exporting to 15 countries, including Gulf, European Union, Australia, UK, and USA. Eastern Curry powder is one of the largest exporters of Indian spices to the international market. With the demand for Indian food product rising, there are plans by the company to export to Moscow . Eastern curry powder hols 75 percentage market share in Kerala. The group is one of the major player in gulf countries.
Eastern Condiments has a strategic tie up with US-based McCormick and Co, which is the world’s largest spices and condiments maker with presence in120 countries. The Rs 400 Crore Eastern Group, a leading Masala manufacturer in India,is going in for massive expansion by increasing its capacity to 300 tonne per day within three years to touch a Rs 1000 crore annual turnover. A Rs 50 crore investment is being set apart by the group for raising the capacity from the present 100 tonne per day to 300 tonne per day, a top. The small town brand has now become one among the top three players nationally.
Eastern has been awarded the national award for producing good of high quality. Eastern Condiments has set up a world class laboratory with the latest equipment to help finding out the artificial colours, the level of toxins, pungency, pesticide residues and microbial loads. Only goods for import comes under the vigilant and stringent scanner of the Vigilance board. Hence the state government cannot confirm the amount of adulterants that is present in the chili powder that is being sold off in the markets in Kerala on a wide scale. Adultrated chili powder has been sent back several times from gulf countries. Such rejected food items are then sold off in the Kerala market, said an official.
As soon as the lab test reports were received the Spices board informed the Eastern management about their findings in their letter numbered MKT/QR/07  2011-12, dated on November 17, 2011. The statements in the letter makes it clear that poisons deadly poison was detected by the officials in the chili powder seized from the Eastern factory. The letter makes it clear that the claims of quality maintenance made by the company is false.
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