Food fraud, "the intentional adulteration of food with cheaper ingredients for economic gain", is a well-documented crime that has existed in the U.S. and Europe for many decades. It has only received more attention in recent years as the fear of bioterrorism has increased. Numerous cases of intentional food fraud have been discovered over the last few years. As of 2013, the foods most commonly listed as adulterated or mislabelled in the United States Pharmacopeia Convention's Food Fraud Database were: milk, olive oil, honey, saffron, fish, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, black pepper, and tea... more on that here
- Adulterated food
- List of food contamination incidents
- List of herbs with known adverse effects
- History of artificial food colorants
- Category:Foodborne illnesses
- Category:Food safety
- Food defense
And here I was just getting into curry...Food adulteration a rising problem in India: In a recent report, the Public Health Foundation of India attributed 80 percent of all premature deaths to contaminated food and water.
The CDC gives a laundry list of spices with average lead level ≥1 mg/kg sampled during lead investigations:Often fraud is perpetrated in high value food commodities and those which come via complex supply chains. Probably herbs and spices fit these characteristics more than any other food ingredients and are thus highly vulnerable . . .
Similar studies done in areas where the spice is produced indicate that it is a source of exposure for children . . .Lead can contaminate spices during many points in the global supply chain. Spices are often grown in countries polluted by leaded gasoline, smelters, battery manufacturing plants, and mines. Lead is deposited in soil and water from airborne pollutants and fertilizer application. Lead dust from grinding machinery can also contaminate spices. Spices might also be adulterated deliberately with lead to enhance color or increase weight. Because >95% of spices consumed in the United States are imported, recommendations to purchase only locally grown spices are impractical. According to the World Health Organization, the permissible limit of lead for infant formula is 0.02 mg/kg lead and for salt is 2 mg/kg. No U.S. permissible limit for lead in spices exists; however, the FDA limit for lead in natural-source food color additives (e.g., paprika, saffron, and turmeric) is 10 mg/kg. The FDA action levels (i.e., the levels at which an investigation is undertaken, or a recall is issued, depending upon the circumstances and findings) for products intended for consumption by children are 0.1 mg/ kg for candy and 0.5 mg/kg for other foods; however, spices are not considered food intended for consumption by children.
A Spoonful of Lead: A 10-Year Look at Spices as a Potential Source of Lead Exposure . . .In our study, turmeric samples had high concentrations of lead, with high levels of bioaccessibility, suggesting that contamination of food spices may be an important source of lead exposure in this setting.
In general, they say that lead exposure has been declining in the USA . . . However, it seems that spices are mostly imported/rebranded, and often adulterated. Supposedly, there are some simple tests that we may do to detect adulteration in spices, although I haven't found them to be advocated by health agencies. Well, I'll be doing taste tests in order to rethink my recipes and see how many spices I can eliminate, flavor-wise, before getting into that home testing alchemy. Maybe water testing kits could work, but spices aren't cheap anyway, and would only cost more if the quality control were improved, I guess... then again, I'd imagine that unsuspecting people still pay top dollar for the adulterated stuff—'spice supplements' especially—but either way, such a choice should be off the table, and none of it should be impure (well, I heard that was only an illicit drug thing).New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested more than 3000 samples of consumer products during lead poisoning case investigations and surveys of local stores, and of these, spices were the most frequently tested (almost 40% of the samples)... More than 50% of the spice samples had detectable lead, and more than 30% had lead concentrations greater than 2 ppm. Average lead content in the spices was significantly higher for spices purchased abroad than in the United States. Certain commonly used spices, particularly those purchased abroad in Georgia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Morocco, can have very high lead levels, which can contribute to lead body burden. This underscores the need to develop comprehensive interventions that educate consumers and initiate intergovernmental efforts for stricter global food regulations.
Just when you thought it was safe to have a spice rack...
Variety is the death of spice: did you know that there are more fucking spice racks than there are spices, and the spice aint even fucking right?
You can't make this stuff up!