The authenticity of herbs and spices

The development of a rapid set of methodologies for the detection of natural, accidental and deliberate contamination of spices and herbs with chemical agents.

Herbs and spices are costly commodities, vulnerable to adulterations. An example of food adulteration is the blending of the spices with lower value ingredients to increase own economic benefit. In this case, other parties in the chain and consumers are deceived. For that reason, measures against deliberate attacks have to be based on available food safety systems. Since food safety and food security are major concern in many EU member states, a database should be developed to reduce the industrial chemical adulterations and to ensure the authenticity of spices and herbs by evaluation and improvement of non-targeted finger printing methods. This work package is part of the SPICED project, in which government, industry and suppliers work together to securing food chains from primary production to consumer ready food against major deliberate, accidental or natural  contaminations directly related with the safety of food products.
The aim of this study is to get insight in the spices chain, to identify fraud opportunities, to develop fingerprint methods to detect adulterations of herbs and spices and to discern critical points in the chain. The study will focus on the top 5 consumed spices, i.e. pepper, chilli paprika, vanilla, nutmeg and saffron, and the top 2 herbs, i.e. basil & garlic.