Guidance on Authenticity of Herbs and Spices

Industry best practice on assessing and protecting culinary dried herbs and spices.

The global market for herbs and spices is complex with diverse supply chains and products being sourced from a variety of businesses ranging from large scale producers to smallholders.

Many herbs and spices grow wild and are farmed on a village or subsistence scale and there are often many intermediaries in the supply chain from farmer, collector to middle-man before arrival at the origin processor/shipper.

Protection against adulteration and substitution is of the upmost importance given that many herbs and spices are materials that may be of high intrinsic value. Food businesses need to ensure that they have appropriate controls and mitigation measures in place to prevent or detect product vulnerabilities.

As with any raw material and its supply chain, the emphasis should always be on prevention rather than detection of issues. As each herb and spice is unique, this document concentrates on identifying and assessing general vulnerabilities.

This guidance was developed by a Joint Industry Working Group comprised of representatives of the British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation and Seasoning and Spice Association, in liaison with the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland.

Scope

This document has been developed to provide Industry Best Practice Guidance on vulnerability assessment for culinary dried herbs and spices (including blends), in order to mitigate against potential adulteration and substitution.

It is focussed on the authenticity of herbs and spices and therefore does not cover general food safety controls. However, food safety and labelling requirements still apply.

It is prudent for users also to consider the potential for cross-contamination as a part of Good Agricultural and Manufacturing Practices, which are beyond the scope of this document.