Your Favorite Herbs and Spices May Be Tempered, Studies Reveal

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herb adulteration
markusspiske (pixabay.com)

Everybody loves a good herb to bring life to their dishes but according to the latest study, most of the time some herbs are tempered with. 58 percent of the time sage, a popular herb has been a victim of herb adulteration.

This latest research was carried out by the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast. The researchers tested as many as 19 samples of sage coming from all over U.K food supply from the month of August till September of 2020.

They found that while no major large supermarkets contained tempered batches of sage, retail stores online as well as smaller grocery stores did indeed sell contaminated versions of this seasoning herb. It’s interesting to note that these herbs had only some sage and instead consisted mostly of tree leaves or olive leaves.

While the study was focused in the UK, it raises important questions about consuming adulterated herbs and how they may also have found their way into the U.S food supply.

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While Sage was not at the front line of domestic herb adulteration and it has guidelines set on it by the U.S Food & Drug Administration, concerns are still circulating for some time now regarding other herbs such as turmeric that was found to contain lead in some batches. Recently FDA also recalled parsley from a specific grocery store chain because of Salmonella’s concerns.

The herb turmeric was however found to have lead chromate added to it to make its natural yellow color pop and be seen as even brighter. The herb prized for its ability to add flavor to curries and other dishes popular in south Asian communities was revealed by a Stanford-led study to have been tempered with a lead-laced chemical.

This is alarming because natural herbs commonly believed to provide health benefits are now being laced with chemicals that could cause considerable harm to health. Lead that is added to spices like Turmeric is considered unsafe in any quantity if ingested. The tempered turmeric is also believed to be leading blood lead levels in Bangladesh, the area where it is grown in abundance.

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Moreover, samples coming from overseas should also raise eyebrows, especially since herb and spice companies such as McCormick&Company and Marmara Foods are among those that sell both in the eastern part of the world and the west

This however isn’t the first tempered herb case that the IGFS study has discovered and identified. Back in the year 2015, IGFS discovered that 1 in 4 samples of the herb oregano was found to have been tempered with other substances. This is big for the industry of herbs and thus progress was actively made to purify this favorite among herb lovers. A follow-up study however found that only 1 in as many as 20 samples of oregano were purified and impacted.

Sage suppliers are now hoped about by buyers to have finally learned to clean up their samples as well. Till that can happen however it would be wiser for you to make sure the herbs you are using are free of herb adulteration.

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