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Re-launch of pepper futures likely

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Pepper futures contracts on commodity exchanges might be re-launched soon when the controversial mineral oil issue is resolved.

The issue had rocked the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and led to sealing of 8,000 tonnes of the commodity in Kochi and suspension of trade in December 2012. The Forward Markets Commission (FMC) had asked the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) to resolve the issue before granting permission to re-launch the contracts, temporarily suspended a few months ago.

Following this, NCDEX released the payment for testing the samples of pepper sealed by FSSAI, applying for new contracts afresh. As FMC didn’t mention mineral oil testing in the contract, it chose to suspend the contract to avoid controversy. Meanwhile, the mineral oil issue related to the pepper stocks sealed by FSSAI in Kochi has gradually lost relevance.

Used to polish sub-standard pepper, mineral oil evaporates after three months. That FSSAI is in no hurry to release the sealed pepper is evident from the fact that a random check of two lots (of nine tonnes and 24 tonnes) in February found no trace of mineral oil.

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