Herbs, Spices and Nuts
Spices are recognised as one of the most adulterated food groups, hardly surprising when you consider that saffron (as an example), by weight, is worth more than gold.  To further complicate matters herbs, spices and nuts are often processed into products that make visual identification impossible; milled and blended. They are also products that are field grown so contamination with weed species is common, but it presents a potential human health risk if the weed species are poisonous. Our ISO 17025 accredited Next Generation Sequencing can help. With global supply chains there are often price differential for different origins or production methods. Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis provides a solution for these challenges. Allergens are an increasing concern, either through adulteration, misunderstandings on species, or contamination. 


What can the tests identify?


The testing is not quantitative; however, we are able to provide expected read recovery profiles for blended material and compare samples against these, assuring recipes have been followed correctly, providing authenticity validation and quality assurance.

Sequencing Investigations
We offer advanced testing to discriminate between closely associated species such as cinnamon and cassia or parsley and leaf celery etc.

Origin Validation
Comparison of the environmental fingerprint of the product against a database of reference samples for declared origin, does it match the traceability documentation? This testing offers a test for consistency with claimed or declared origin. If we do not have a database for you we are always happy to build one with you.

Organic Validation
Pesticides are the most common test for consistency with organic declarations but these only check the sprays applied to the crop. By looking at the nitrogen isotopic signal in the crop we can identify signals associated with artificial fertilizers, not permitted in organic production.

With herbs, celery is a concern, with closely related “leaf celery” potentially being substituted for parsley. Herbs and spices are often processed in factories containing allergenic material making contamination a potential risk. Nut species are often processed in factories processing more than one type of nut. Where nuts are processed identification of incorrect species is often impossible. Allergen testing can identify unexpected allergenic contamination.

What other tests can be carried out on herbs, spices, and nuts?
There is a raft of tests that can be performed on herbs, spices and nuts, including;



Illegal dyes

Artificial Colours

Volatile oils, extraneous matter from the sample plant, bulking agents plus many more…

How can we support?
Contact us to discuss the most appropriate tests for your products.

Food Forensics are outcome focused, we would look to work with you to understand your product, your supply chain and any claims to determine the most appropriate tests within your budget to deliver the outcomes you are looking for; be it detection of problems, deterrence or validation of claims. Food Forensics has a plethora of experts covering chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, agronomy and supply chain all able to provide advice to guide you towards the most appropriate solution for your situation. 


Do I need to test for everything?
No, at Food Forensics we are happy to work with you to identify the key risks in your supply chain combined with intelligence on risk to determine the most appropriate test or tests for your specific situation.

If I test and find a problem what do I do then?
Food Forensics help by providing an interpretation of the test result and supporting you in determining the appropriate course of action depending on the specific situation.

The material I purchase comes with a CoA (certificate of analysis) do I still need to test?
Yes, unfortunately if the sample is taken by your supplier and sent to a laboratory for testing the information on the certificate relating to the batch that was sampled was also provided by your supplier. You are therefore required to perform due diligence to ensure the product you use/sell is safe, correctly described and fit for purpose. Over time with due diligence testing you can apply “earned recognition” and reduce testing on suppliers with consistently good results are redirect resources to those where testing can add greater value.

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