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Spice Authenticity Testing

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mmn1994

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Posted 03 August 2023 - 01:24 PM

I am working on my vulnerability assessment for my Food Fraud Mitigation Plan. 

 

We identified our spice mixes as a highly vulnerable raw material group. These were not identified by the previous food fraud team leader as high risk, so no authenticity testing parameters are currently in place.

 

I was wondering if anyone has performed authenticity testing on spices and if so, what tests did you find most helpful/ effective? 

 

Our spice blends are composed of: Basil, Black Pepper, corn starch, Garlic, garlic powder, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, and Thyme. 

 

Any and all insight appreciated! 



matthewcc

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Posted 07 August 2023 - 03:39 PM

Hi mmn1994,

 

Yes, we do authenticity/identity testing on spices every time we receive them.  Microscopic analysis will be huge, but of course is difficult/impossible with sugar, oil, and similar extracted/processed substances.  You should look at high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) as well.  I recommend you get the book Atlas of Microscopy of Medicinal Plants Culinary Herbs and Spices, Jackson, B. P. and Snowdon, D. W., CRC, 1990 and Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis, and http://www.botanical...egory:Botanical has a few of the spices you mentioned.  There are other books and websites that might be useful as well, that are too numerous to mention.



Brothbro

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Posted 07 August 2023 - 04:05 PM

If you purchase spices in their whole form or cut/sift you can identify them by their physical characteristics if you have good reference information and well-trained staff. Cut/sift material can be identified under a microscope. Matthewcc's link to AHPA's botanical database is great, many companies in the spice/herb industry use these. 

 

For powdered spices, you'll have to resort to HPTLC in most cases. It becomes difficult for custom blends of powdered spices. If you're looking to verify the identity of the blend, you'll likely need to first create a reference profile for it with a 3rd party lab capable of HPTLC testing. Subsequent samples are then sent to this lab for comparison against this reference. It can be an expensive process, and frankly I don't care for it too much because my understanding is that it can't tell the difference between blends with slightly different ratios of the same ingredients very well. So it's a good method for identity, but not very useful for quantitative testing of the individual spices in the blend.

 

If you're specifically concerned about food fraud, it may be better to identify common adulterants that you think are known to occur in your product. For example, maybe other cheaper oils could be fraudulently substituted for sunflower oil in your blend. Testing for the presence of cheaper oils may be more practical.


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matthewcc

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Posted 08 August 2023 - 07:32 PM

You make some great points, Brothbro, and I wanted to add that if a spice is in the whole form, or even cut/sift, a good book to use for macroscopic analysis for identification is The Identification of Medicinal Plants, Applequist, W., American Botanical Council, 2006.

 

mmn1994, if you receive any whole spices or cut/sift, I would recommend having someone get trained on macroscopic analysis of plants.





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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: VAACPFood Fraud, GFSI, Spice, Authenticity Testing, Lab results, mitigation, FSMS, vulnerability, vulnerability assessment

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