These Toxic Spices Found To Contain Heavy Metals

These Toxic Spices Found To Contain Heavy Metals

( – Do you like to liven up your meals with herbs and spices? Be careful — they might contain dangerous levels of heavy metals. A 2021 study examined seasonings from a wide range of brands and found a THIRD of them were contaminated. Now that’s leading to lawsuits.

In November 2021, Consumer Reports released a study of popular brands of herbs and spices. They tested 126 different products from a variety of brands, including household names like McCormick, Trader Joe’s and Walmart. Shockingly, almost a third — 40 in total — contained enough arsenic, lead, and cadmium to be a health concern for children if eaten regularly. They included EVERY brand of thyme and oregano.

Consumer Reports said it isn’t easy to avoid contaminated products because there’s no clear link between the brand of a spice and how likely it is to contain heavy metals. Whether a product was organic or marked “packed in USA” didn’t make any difference either. American Spice Trade Association CEO Laura Shumow told Consumer Reports that it’s almost impossible to produce herbs and spices with no heavy metal contamination because the metals aren’t getting in during processing; the plants pick them up from the soil in which they grow. Shumow also said studies show spices cause under 0.1% of dietary lead exposure in young children; even if the flavorings contain heavy metals, we simply don’t eat enough of them for them to be dangerous.

Not everyone agrees. Since the study was published, four lawsuits have been launched against spice manufacturers. McCormick, Whole Foods, and Amazon are all facing class action suits over selling spices that contain heavy metals. Suits allege the companies could have tested for heavy metal contamination but didn’t. In the companies’ defense, though, it’s not clear what testing would have achieved. The FDA doesn’t set safe limits for heavy metals in spices, and a simple test to see if they’re present is useless; the answer’s always going to be yes. Nevertheless, if you’re worried about this you should take it easy on the exotic flavorings when you cook.

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