Dried herbs and spices and legislation

Here follows a table with a legislation overview of dried herbs and spices;

RegulationDescription
(EC) No 178/2002General principles and of food law establishing the European and laying down in matters of food safety
(EC) No 852/2004Food hygiene
(EC) No 2073/2005Microbiological criteria for food
(EU) No 1169/2011Provision of food to consumers
(EC) No 1881/2006Setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs
(EC) No 401/2006Methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of mycotoxins in foodstuffs
The legislation table will be renewed: An update will follow soon

Microbiology

Table 2: Common microbiological hazards

GenusPathogenic speciesGRForm, mobilityO₂T (C.)T1 (C.)pH-OpH-RAwIllness
Bacilluscereus+Rod (3-5 um length 1 um wide) spore-forming, mobileAerobe (sometimes Fa)28,3510,0-48,06.0- 7,54,9-9,3>0.91Poisoning (Tox. 1) and infection (Tox. 2)

Table 3: Possible Mycotoxins, derived from the Hazards table Mycotoxins

Mycotoxin ( from fungus)FungusAgricultural raw materials and food productsADI of AWI (ug/kg body weight)EffectsLegislatory regulationsComments
 (five species: B1, B2, G1, G2; M1 occurs in milk and comes from B1) and M2 (M1 and M2 are conversion products of Aflatoxin B1, B2 into lactating mammalsAspergillus flavus Aspergillus parasiticusCereals, buckwheat, maize and maize products, cottonseed, , other types of nuts (pistachio-nuts, walnuts), spices, dried figs, milk (products), seed soy and soy products.Acute toxic; degradation of liver and kidneys. Chronic: carcinogenic (cancer forming), especially in the liver.Maximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Aflatoxin B 1 is the most common and toxic carcinogen. In milk (products) is the most common aflatoxin M 1 formed after that B 1 is broken down. Around 1-3% B 1 is processed in milk to M 1. M 1 is not as poisonous and carcinogenic as B 1. Next to M 1 are other break-down products of B 1 present in milk. Fungus mostly grows during transport and in the tropics, mostly characterised by high temperatures (optimum 25 °C: range 8-37) and or high (>83%). In developed countries (VS) aflatoxins are mainly caused during difficult growth seasons (growth-stress).
Ochratoxin A&BAspergillus Penicillium speciesBarley, rye, wheat, rice, maize, peanuts, Brazilian nuts, peppers, Cotton seed, and Cheese.AWI of toxin A: 0,112 (JECFA, 1990) limit: 10 ug/kg food . LD 50 (rat, oral) van toxin A: 20 mg/kgMaximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Toxin A is more toxic than B. In the Netherlands, such low amounts found that the risk is perceived as very low and therefore is there no norm. Growth fungus is possible in a temperate climate. Toxin A is inactivated at > 221 °C

Possible chemical hazards in Dried herbs and spices

Table 4: Possible hazards, derived from the Hazard table chemical hazards

Chemical componentFood productLegislationComments
(herbicides, fungicides, insecticides)Vegetables, spices and herbsmax. Amount. Acceptance and usage of pesticides are regulated in Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. 
Dioxins: Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDD’s), Polychlorinated dibenzofurans PCDF and 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD). (through Feed) and , (especially fatty fish such as herring and salmon) and Vegetables, Oils/fats, dairy and eggsMaximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Formed from chlorinated linkages during heating with low oxygen levels. Carcinogenic for humans and animals above a threshold level.
Heavy metals (lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), tin (Ti), mercury (Hg), arsenic (As))Vegetables, spices, herbs, herbs (heavy metals might contaminate food through air, water and soil).Maximum levels according to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006Cd might occur in Batteries, plastics and paint. Cd might induce lung cancer and kidney . Pb is neurotoxic and could induce anaemia and miscarriages.
Azo dye and similar colourantsspices and herbs: chilli, pepper bell, pepper powder, chilli powder, coarse pepper, cayenne pepper and palm oil.ForbiddenThe importing party’s certificates of analysis are mandatory, and member states conduct random sampling.
AcrylamideFries and toasts
AllergensGeneralRegulation (EU) No 1169/2011Give it extra attention when it is known that cross-contamination is possible at the level.
and disinfectantsGeneralForbiddenIt shouldn’t be contaminated through the of the process.

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