Should You Worry About Lead Exposure from The Spices You Use?

Spices are lauded for their numerous health benefits. Several people credit and encourage their use as a way to reduce your salt intake. But recent findings of a report haven’t been so good. They indicate that lead exposure from spices is a serious cause for concern.

Evidence related to this matter has been mounting. There have been suggestions that spices, especially, those that you buy from foreign sources or stores, may increase your concern for lead exposure. Read on to find out more:

What Does the Report Say?

The recent study on this matter was published in the journal of Public Health Management and Practice. This study examined the case of lead poisoning related to the spices purchased from abroad.

The study was led by Paromita Hore, Ph.D., MPH, and colleagues at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. They investigated consumer products for lead exposure, testing 3,000 products between 2008-2017.

The team learned that the spices, which were purchased overseas were at an increased risk of culminating in exposure to lead. There were 1,500 samples that were tested and they were taken from 41 countries.

The findings showed that lead was present in more than half of all the sample spices tested. About 30% of the spices had a lead concentration greater than 2 parts per million (ppm), which is the allowed limit for lead in some food additives.

It was concluded that the spices purchased overseas exhibited high lead content in contrast with the spices purchased in the US. The spices purchased from New York City had an average lead content of less than 2 ppm. However, spices that were purchased overseas had an average lead content that exceeded 50 ppm.

The highest lead concentration was found in spices that were acquired from Bangladesh, Nepal, Georgia, Pakistan, Georgia, and Morocco. Most of the spices that were contaminated were those present in packets without labels or brand names.

The report also gave examples of spices that were lead contaminated. These included paprika, hot pepper, turmeric, and chili powder.

Other Relevant Studies

Other research work has also shown that spices are a concern for lead contamination. In May 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert related to lead contamination from spices from imposters. It also found out that it was okay to stop shipments from other imposters.

To this end, a public health epidemiologist based in North Carolina, Kim Gaetz suggested, “Based on what the data are showing us so far, buying spices in the U.S. instead of online or when traveling overseas seems to be a good way to protect yourself, because the spices that have been legally imported into the U.S. at least have the chance of going through heavy metal screening upon import.”

Moving Forward – Saving Yourself from Lead Contamination

Lead contamination from spices jeopardizes your health. In this regard, you need to purchase spices from reputable brands because they typically have processes in place that ensure the quality of their product. At the same time, growing your own spices is also a good way to save yourself from lead exposure.