McCormick warns of herbs and spices adulteration

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

All herbs and spices are not of the same quality, McCormick's Chris Jinks has warned. iStock credit: AlexRaths
All herbs and spices are not of the same quality, McCormick's Chris Jinks has warned. iStock credit: AlexRaths

Related tags: Supply chain, Ingredients & nutrition, Food safety

McCormick & Company, the US-based ingredients supplier, has called on manufacturers in the herb and spice industry to check their businesses for fraudulent practices following the publication of an EU report.

McCormick made the call after the publication of the EU Food Fraud Network’s Herb & Spice Coordinated Control Plan (EUCCP) report. It follows an investigation led by the EU Commission, Europol and member state authorities into alleged intentional adulteration in the herb and spice sector across 21 EU member states, Switzerland and Norway.

Nearly 10,000 analyses were carried out on 1,885 samples to assess the authenticity of cumin, curcuma, oregano, paprika/chilli, pepper and saffron.

The percentage of samples which were deemed at risk of adulteration were 17% for pepper, 14% for cumin, 11% for curcuma, 11% for saffron and 6% for paprika/chilli. Oregano was identified as the most vulnerable with 48% of samples at risk of contamination, with olive leaves used as a substitute in most cases.

Review of food fraud prevention and mitigation

In response McCormick conducted an in-depth review of its food fraud prevention and mitigation protocols. It also analysed McCormick retail products on sale across Europe, using expert external laboratories, mirroring many of the methods used by the EUCCP research team. It found no evidence of fraudulent practices.

McCormick said it was concerned by the suspicious adulteration identified by the report. It has called for the establishment of an anonymous industry-wide whistleblowing programme, available to all those involved in the end-to-end supply chain to help combat the issue.

Chris Jinks, president of Europe Middle East and Africa at McCormick said: “As leaders in this sector, McCormick welcomes the publication of this EUCCP report. Although disappointed by the suspicious fraudulent activities highlighted across the broader industry, we are pleased this issue is getting much needed attention.

“We do not tolerate any level of fraudulent activity and are determined to drive positive change across the industry. It is critical that consumers are aware that all herbs and spices are not of the same quality and we will work closely with industry and regulatory partners to identify offenders at every opportunity.

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