Industry deals with the problem by requiring certificates of analysis for all imported spices, and also by testing imported product, Mitchell says. “The standard is zero tolerance for chemicals and foreign botanical matter mixed in with pure spices,” he points out. “Adulteration is not a problem with spices originating in the U.S. But some countries with less oversight are selling ground spices, so the risk of adulteration has become both a food safety and quality issue.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueDecember/January 2020
Also By This Author
New Proficiency Test
Fapas, the proficiency testing arm of Fera Science Ltd., Sand Hutton, York, UK, introduced on Sept. 1, 2019, a proficiency test for contamination of cumin with the allergens sesame and gluten.
The process begins when a customer orders proficiency testing materials online from the Fapas website, according to Mark Sykes, MS, Fera’s lead senior scientist for proficiency testing. “The testing materials are shipped to the laboratory on the advertised date,” Sykes relates. “The laboratory then analyzes the test materials using their own method—for allergens this is typically an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)—and submits its results to Fapas online, before the closing date.”
For this new Fapas offering, there is just one test, but two test materials are provided to each participant and the results are grouped and assessed according to the brand of ELISA kit they used, Sykes explains. “The Fapas online site for entry of results has a list of commonly available commercial ELISA test kits and participants select the one they have used,” he elaborates.
“The results receive rigorous statistical analysis by Fapas’ proficiency testing experts,” Sykes says. “A confidential report is published online for the customer, typically within 15 days of test results submission. Fapas can also provide interlaboratory reports for multiple connected laboratories that show an overview of global performance.”
This new sesame and gluten proficiency test for cumin adds to Fapas’s current portfolio of proficiency tests that address the potential for contamination of spices. “The Fapas portfolio also includes black pepper, chili powder, ginger, paprika, turmeric, and garlic powder,” Sykes notes.