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Items in Your Pantry – ?Spices

During the manufacturing process spices are typically treated by one of 3 ways before they’re put on store shelves. This is to eliminate contaminates. *The way a manufacturer treats the herbs and spices does NOT have to be labeled on the product.* Here are the 3 main processes:

1️⃣Treated with ethylene oxide-this is toxic and is a known carcinogen and mutagen that is used to fumigate spices. It is banned in the EU and is not allowed for use on ground spices in the US. (1, 2) It is a cheap treatment that doesn’t change the taste or look of spices. It is estimated that 40-85% of spice companies use EO as treatment. (3)

2️⃣Treated with irradiation which uses ionized radiation. This does NOT make food radioactive. No long term studies have been done on the effects of irradiation. There are questions as to whether the process creates free radicals. (4) Higher doses of ionizing radiation have been shown to change the physical and antioxidative properties of food products. (5) Irradiation is used in the US, Canada, EU and many other countries. (6)

3️⃣Steam treated with dry steam which is very, very hot water. Just water. This is used to kill microbes. This is the method generally used in processing ORGANIC spices but it is also a more expensive method. (7)

Why are these processes needed in treating spices, anyway? Salmonella is the main potential danger because it can live dormant on dried spices for years…much longer than previously thought. (8) Salmonella via spices and herbs was prevalent more than twice as much as any other imported food that was checked by the FDA. (9)

What are some other reasons to buy organic dried herbs and spices? With organic:
✅steam treated
✅pesticides that follow organic rules
✅no ethylene oxide
✅no msg
✅non GMO
✅no artificial flavors
✅no artificial colors
✅no chemical additives

Keeping budget in mind, buying spices in bulk and refilling old jars is a great way to make organic spices affordable.

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