EU bans Indian guar gum

the guar gum trade in India has suffered a setback after the European Union (eu) banned import of non-certified guar gum from India. The move came after dioxins and pentachlorophenols were found in a consignment delivered by India Glycol, a Delhi-based exporter.

India is the leading exporter of guar gum, constituting about 80 per cent of the global production. It is being exported to other countries since 1956. Guar gum is derived from guar seeds (cluster beans), a legume crop that grows in semi-arid regions of the subcontinent. It is used as a thickening agent and as an additive in food products.

Traders are now worried because certification is not easy and there is just one testing facility in India, which is very expensive. "vimta in Hyderabad charges Rs 30,000-35,000 per sample. Hence, a five-batch container will prove to be very expensive. Rajasthan is planning a testing facility. But till that comes up, big manufacturers will gain because they have their own internal testing laboratories. We need advanced testing facilities at subsidised prices, otherwise small exporters will suffer,'' says Jeewan Gandhi, president of the Rajasthan Guar Gum Association.

However, Girdhari Lal Sarda, president of the All India Guar Gum Manufacturers and Exporters' Association, says there is no problem. "If we have to export, we will have to show certification; it is not the question of big or small traders,'' he said.

The level of dioxin found in the consignment from India Glycol was up to 156 picogrammes per gram of fat, which is well above the six picogrammes allowed by eu. "This was probably because India Glycol manufactures ethanol in the same compound where they produce gum in their plant in Kashipur in Uttarakhand,' Gandhi said.

A team from eu is visiting India on October 5-7 to discuss the issue. The team will visit Hyderabad and Jodhpur where most of the food-grade guar is produced.