FSSAI Regulations and Guidelines on Spices

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has listed 109 varieties of spices. By producing 75 varieties out of the 109 listed by ISO, India has become the largest producer and supplier for spices globally. India produces 8.5 million tons of spices annually. Also, India is the largest consumer of spices. The aroma, taste, and texture of […]

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has listed 109 varieties of spices. By producing 75 varieties out of the 109 listed by ISO, India has become the largest producer and supplier for spices globally. India produces 8.5 million tons of spices annually. Also, India is the largest consumer of spices. The aroma, taste, and texture of Indian spices have made them famous worldwide. Some of the spices that are primarily exported from India are turmeric, pepper, cardamom, cumin, coriander, vanilla, and tamarind. The most valued products in the trade of commodities are spices and India’s share in it is 45% by virtue of exporting one million tons of spices annually.1

The guidelines on spices are made to reduce the food-borne illnesses that have increased significantly in the past few years in addition to the fact that spices are natural products that can harbour microorganisms, which may pose serious health concerns. Thus, to lower the spice-related health risk, a guidance document on Food Safety Management System (FSMS) for the processing of spices has been developed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).1

Spices in India: Production and export

A large number of spices are produced in India, some of which are pepper, cardamom, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and fennel.2 The estimated export of spices from India between April 2017 and March 2018 was found to be 1,028,060 tons, with chilli being the most exported spice. About 443,900 tons of chilli was exported between April 2017 and March 2018.3 The total production of spices in India in the same year was 8.4 million tons.2

Regulatory standards listed by FSSAI to control the quality of spice4

Standards of 30 spices and condiments such as Cardamom, Chillies, Cinnamon, Cassia, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin etc. are prescribed in the Food Safety and Standards Regulation’ 2011. The FSSAI regulations prohibits the sale of powdered spices and condiments in loose form. It also prohibits the sale of compounded asafoetida exceeding one kilogram in weight except in a sealed container with proper labelling.

The following tables list the permissible limits of extraneous matters, moisture content, total ash, insect‑damaged matter, volatile oil content, etc., for a few spices:

  1. Cardamom seed (chhoti elaichi) and seed powder: This is the dried fruit of Elettaria cardamomum, which should have a characteristic odour and should be free from any other odour or rancidity.
Standards Cardamom seeds Powdered cardamom seeds
Extraneous matter NMT 2% by weight
Light seeds (brown- or red-coloured, broken, immature, and shrivelled seeds) NMT 3% by weight
Moisture NMT 13% by weight NMT 11% by weight
Total ash on a dry basis NMT 9.5% by weight NMT 8% by weight
Volatile oil content on a dry basis NMT 3.5% v/w
Insect-damaged matter NMT 1% by weight NMT 3% by weight
Hydrochloric acid insoluble ash on a dry basis NMT 3% by weight

NMT: not more than; v/w: volume by weight

  1. Chillies and capsicum whole and powder (lal mirchi):

These are the dried and ripe fruits of Capsicum frutescens and Capsicum annum. Edible oil to a maximum limit of 2% by weight may be present in chilli powder with specifications on the label with the quantity and nature of the oil used.

Standards Whole chillies and capsicum Powdered chillies and capsicum
Extraneous matter NMT 1% by weight
Unripe and marked fruits NMT 2% by weight
Broken fruits and seeds NMT 5% by weight
Moisture content NMT 11% by weight NMT 11% by weight
Total ash on a dry basis NMT 8% by weight NMT 8% by weight
Hydrochloric acid insoluble ash on a dry basis NMT 1.3% by weight NMT 1.3% by weight
Insect-damaged matter NMT 1% by weight
Crude fibre NMT 30% by weight
Non-volatile ether extract on a dry basis NLT 12% by weight

NLT: not less than; NMT: not more than

  1. Cinnamon whole and powder (dalchini):

Whole cinnamon is the inner bark and branches of Cinnamomum zeylanicum. It is powdered to obtain cinnamon powder.

Standards Whole cinnamon Powdered cinnamon
Extraneous matter NMT 1% by weight
Moisture NMT 12% by weight NMT 12% by weight
Total ash on a dry basis NMT 7% by weight NMT 7% by weight
Hydrochloric acid insoluble ash on a dry basis NMT 2% by weight NMT 2% by weight
Volatile oil content on a dry basis NLT 0.7% by weight NLT 0.5% by weight
Insect-damaged matter NMT 1% by weight
Cinnamon content on a dry basis NMT 0.3% by weight NMT 0.3% by weight

NLT: not less than; NMT: not more than

Ways to prevent the consumption of adulterated spices5

Spices are the basic requirement in an Indian meal. Adulteration of ground spices with various edible and non-edible materials makes it risky for consumption. The following are the guidelines that can prevent the consumption of adulterated spices:

  1. Check for an FSSAI logo and license number on the label of the package of organic spices
  2. Do not buy powdered spices sold loose
  3. Do not buy spices with extra shine and bright colours
  4. Do not buy spices with unpleasant odours
  5. Do not buy packaged spices in damaged packs

References

  1. Guidance document. Food safety management system [Internet] [Updated Oct 2018]. Available at: https://fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr:48724ea0-1ae5-4917-9558-7d1c7234fc50/Guidance_Document_Spices_23_10_2018.pdf. Accessed on Oct 25, 2018.
  2. Spice wise area and production [Internet]. Available at: http://indianspices.com/sites/default/files/Major%20spice%20wise%20area%20and%20production_2018.pdf. Accessed on Oct 25, 2018.
  3. Estimated export of spices from India during April – March 2017-18 compared with April – March 2016-17 [Internet] [Updated 2018]. Available at: http://indianspices.com/sites/default/files/edec2018web.pdf. Accessed on Oct 25, 2018.
  4. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006:439-444. Accessed on Oct 25, 2018.
  5. Safe ground spices [Internet] [Updated Feb 2018]. Available at: https://fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr:5b15173e-bda4-4ab1-a078-59616897006a/Guidance_Note_Safe_Ground_Spices_30_07_2018.pdf. Accessed on Oct 25, 2018.

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