Herbs and spices truly justify their names as they can spice up the plainest of delicacies in an instant. Food without them can taste extremely bland. Their significance to the human palate is what makes them treasured and invaluable. Even spice testing is gaining popularity with each passing second.

 With ever-increasing awareness, consumers these days expect herb and spice products to be safe to eat and drink. Many regulations are associated with the safety, quality, authenticity, and traceability of herbs and spices. And they are becoming more stringent with each passing second.

We at Cultivator Phyto Lab assist you in meeting consumer and regulatory demands to make your business more efficient and your products more marketable. We pride ourselves on leading the way in the new era of food safety, transparency of data, and technology.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the blog.

Herb and Spice Adulteration Testing-
The most popular commodities are not only extensively used for flavouring foods and vegetables, but also for their antiseptic and medicinal properties. Recent research reports show that the bioactive components in spices and herbs are associated with chemo for the prevention of cancer, inflammation, and other ailments. They are also known to prevent food deterioration.

Having said that, even spices are subject to adulteration with foreign materials. Ground walnut shells, sand, wheat starch, and sawdust are some of the most common adulterants used. You would even be surprised to know that illegal dyes like Sudan dyes are used as adulterants.

Manufacturers also mix herbs of different biological or geographical origins to make them come across as authentic. Adulteration has quite an adverse effect. It leads to the erosion of their medical and nutritional values. Moreover, adulteration can also pose a threat to consumer health and safety.

With extensive knowledge and years of experience, Cultivator Phyto Lab offers a complete package of techniques to ensure quality.

In spices, adulteration testing includes papaya seeds, black pepper, extraneous matter, argemone seeds, added starch, chalk powder, lead chromate, brick powder, artificial color, grass seeds, etc.

The Physical Method of Evaluation-
When it comes to the physical methods for authentication of herbs and spices, microscopic analysis is the most widely used method. It involves the morphological description of spices that includes shape, size, color, texture, odor, and surface characteristics.

Microscopy techniques typically include light and electron microscopy and are employed for powdered samples. These tests are based on the observations of structural, cellular, and internal tissue features.

Analytical Methods of Evaluation
Through analytical techniques, the identification and authentication of herbs and spices are conducted by evaluating the organic components and chemical compositions present in the spices.

The techniques can be categorised into mass spectrometric methods, chromatographic methods, chemometric techniques, spectroscopic analysis, IR methods, Physio-Chemical methods, and others.

The spectroscopic analysis allows non-destructive testing using a small portion of samples for compound identification. The techniques generally include UV, visible, mid, or infrared, fluorescence, and others.

For chromatographic analysis, high-performance liquid chromatography with different types of separation methods is used.

Chemometric approaches involve principal component analysis, soft independent modelling of class analogy, linear discriminant analysis, artificial neural networks, and K-nearest neighbour analysis. (Presently we are not doing this; this is PCA and software-based analysis.)

Biotechnological Methods of Evaluation
These DNA-based methods are employed to identify plant species adulterations. These methods are typically categorised into three types: hybridization-based, sequencing-based, and PCR-based. (At the moment, we are not doing)

The nuclear ribosomal region-internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) and chloroplastic region-ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase large chain (rbcL) are a couple of the most effective DNA barcodes for the detection of plant-based adulterants in herb and spice products. (At the moment, we are not doing)

Immunological Analysis of Evaluation
This evaluation of the analysis, also known as the immunological assay, utilises the reaction of an antibody with a specific plant protein to identify the adulteration of other plant materials in herbs and spices. (At the moment, we are not doing)

What types of tests can be performed on herbs and spices?
There is a raft of tests that can be performed on herbs and spices:

  • Mycotoxins- Mycotoxins are produced by certain moulds under warm and humid conditions. Ochratoxin and Aflatoxin are the mycotoxins found in spices and herbs. They are known to cause acute poisoning and can even be life-threatening through liver, spleen, and kidney damage.



  • Illegal Dyes- Illegal dyes, or Sudan dyes, are synthetic chemical dyes that have been used as an adulterant for a few years now. They are carcinogenic and genotoxic. Though their use is not permitted, they are still used to enhance the colour of tomato sauces, chilli powder, and spice mixes.
  • Artificial Colours- Artificial colours tend to have an adverse impact on hyperactivity in children. Color is frequently used as a quality indicator in spices. As a result, it is certain that the possibility of adding colours is limited.

How Can We Help You?

Cultivator Phyto Lab takes pride in having a comprehensive facility for testing herbs,spices, and condiments across a plethora of safety and quality specifications. We provide quality testing for spices including cardamom, caraway, fenugreek, fennel, cassia, cloves, cinnamon, capsicum, chilies, dehydrated black seeds, aniseed, bishops seed, and much more. We can also handle multiple pesticide residues, Dyes, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Solvents, Active Components, Adulterations, Resigns, Minerals, and Metals screening.

If you have any queries or are thinking of getting your spices tested before taking on a new project, feel free to get in touch with us.