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SUMMARY

Under conditions for effective fumigation with ethylene oxide or propylene oxide these reagents can combine not only with moisture but also with chlorine from the natural inorganic chloride content of foodstuffs, whereby the corresponding chlorohydrins are formed. Concentrations of ethylene chlorohydrin up to about 1000 ppm were found in whole spices and ground spice mixtures after commercial fumigation with ethylene oxide. These chlorohydrins are very toxic substances by all accounts; they also are sufficiently involatile and unreactive chemically to be persistent under food processing conditions.