EU rejects Ethiopian red pepper for unsafe levels of toxins

ESAT News (May 9, 2017)

Hot pepper powder worth ten million USD has been returned to Ethiopia from European markets when it was found to have unsafe levels of Aflatoxins and Ochratoxins during testing at entrance laboratories in European countries, according to a report by the Capital newspaper published in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian hot pepper was banned in the UK last fiscal year until it could successfully pass quality control tests. Germany also blocked a large amount of hot pepper from entering their borders, the report said.

Stakeholders told Capital that since 2016 a huge amount of exported hot pepper was returned from Europe to Ethiopia. Europe is a major destination for Ethiopian spice and hot pepper is the spice that Ethiopia exports the most, the report said.

On December 21, 2016 the EU issued a statement imposing special conditions governing the import of spices from Ethiopia. The regulation stated that since 2015, there have been several notifications in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) reporting high levels of Aflatoxins and Ochratoxin A in (mixtures of) spices from Ethiopia. “In order to protect human and animal health in the Union, it is necessary to provide for additional guarantees in relation to spices from Ethiopia,” it explained.

Ethiopia harvests the 8th most red pepper in the world. Although it is still the country’s leading vegetable product and a major spice in Ethiopian cuisine, the report by Capital said.