The Spices Board has cancelled export licences of four Mumbai-based chilli exporting firms on complaints from the European Union that their consignments were adulterated with carcinogenic agents, a senior Board official said Monday.
"We have suspended licences of four exporters after the European Union issued rapid alert notifications. All the adulterated consignments were for Europe," said K. Kannan, director (Marketing),Spices Board.
Those whose licences have been cancelled are Gautam Exports, Patons Exports, Volga Spices and SG Spice & Seed Trading Co, he said.
Kannan said the consignments were contaminated with Sudan-1, a carcinogenic agent. "We found that the export consignments also had high contents of aflatoxin (also carcinogenic)."
Spices Boardm, under the commerce ministry, had earlier made quality certification mandatory for all chilli export consignments to prevent adulterated cargoes from leaving the country. In 2003, the Board had cancelled licences of seven Mumbai-based exporters after getting adulteration complaints.
Earlier this year, Indian chilli trade was dogged by reports of alleged adulterated chilli exports to the UK.However, the Spices Board had said the alleged adulterated consignments to the UK were possibly not from India or the UK officials could have picked up old lots for random checks.
The board also contended that the consignments could have been from a neighbouring country like Pakistan.Reports of adulterated chilli can cause severe damage to India's exports, as the country is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of the spice. About 90 per cent of India's chilli output is consumed in the country itself. In April-December 2004, India exported 105,000 tonne worth $85.89 million.