Cancer-Causing Substance Ethylene Oxide Detected in 527 Indian Items

Shivani Arora

A total of 527 items, including 54 labelled organic, have been red-flagged by EU for being treated with cancer-causing chemicals, specifically ethylene oxide. The European Union imposed restrictions on ethylene oxide usage back in 1991. However, due to a rise in imports, authorities are now increasing their scrutiny.

Between September 2020 and April 2024, EU food safety authorities found that 527 products from India were contaminated with ethylene oxide, a harmful chemical linked to cancer. The European Union imposed restrictions on ethylene oxide usage back in 1991. However, due to a rise in imports, authorities are now increasing their scrutiny.

The 527 products from India included nuts and sesame seeds (313), herbs and spices (60), dietetic foods (48), and other food items (34). Interestingly, some items like sesame seeds, black pepper, and ashwagandha were labelled organic or claimed to be premium immunity enhancers even though they contained ethylene oxide.

What is Ethylene oxide

As per USA’s National Cancer Institute, “It is used primarily to produce other chemicals, including antifreeze.” It is also a chemical intermediate in the manufacture of ethylene glycol. Due to its properties, it is used as a sterilising agent for medical equipment and a fumigating agent for spices.

This chemical is used in several industries and can increase the risk of breast cancer. Its excess in spices causes the risk of breast cancer and also damages DNA, the brain and the nervous system. Even exposure to ethylene oxide can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Long-term exposure may lead to more severe health issues, including cancer, reproductive disorders, and neurological effects.

Data available from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), an online system that traces safety of food in the European Union member countries, shows the chemical was found in 525 food products and two feed products. While India was mention…

Share This Article
Follow:
I am Shivani Arora, a media student who is working as a freelancer Content Writer, news writer and social media handler with different agencies. I am a post graduate student who is self motivated and a hardworking person. My main aim is to excel in my career by learning and exploring new things.
Leave a comment