Spices can cause health problems through lead exposure, research reports


The research, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, observed lead poisoning cases associated with spices purchased abroad and describes how you can confirm that your spices are safe for consumption. It found that lead was in more than 50% of spice samples.

Often, spices are greeted as a healthy mode to prevent the addition of excessive fats or salt to flavor meals. But a recent study found that some spices can possibly cause health problems through lead exposure.

The research team at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene examined consumer products regarding lead exposure. They tried more than 3,000 products between 2008 and 2017.

They found that the spices purchased overseas were at maximum risk of leading to lead exposure. The substances were part of lead poisoning cases and local store reviews. Spices were most freshly tested, with about 1,500 samples from 41 countries examineThe lead

ead was found in more than half of the samples. More than 30% had lead greater than 2 parts per million (ppm). This concentration is the allowable limit for lead in certain food flavors.

It was also observed that spices purchased overseas had a greater level of lead content than those purchased in the U.S.

Researchers then examined the lead concentration in turmeric and Georgian kharcho suneli. Average lead concentrations below 2 ppm were found in spices when purchased locally in New York City. But same spices bought overseas had average concentrations exceeding 50 ppm.

Spices bought in Pakistan, Georgia, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Morocco had the highest lead levels. Mostly contaminated spices were in unmarked containers which did not display information of brand name.

The highest lead levels were found to be present in the Georgian spice kviteli kvavili, which is also called as a yellow flower. Examples of other contaminated spices purchased abroad comprised turmeric, chili powder, hot pepper, and paprika.

According to researchers, public health professionals should also be aware that spices could be a risk factor of lead exposure.

Get the lead out your diet

The lead exposure problem is nothing new. In the past, many studies have been conducted about contamination.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an import alert stating ports could keep loads from certain shippers. They targeted turmeric from Bangladesh and India.

Researchers found that on the basis of data, buying spices in the U.S. rather than online or when traveling overseas appears to be a moral way to protect people. This is because the spices that have been officially imported into the U.S. have the chance of going through screening upon import.

Nearly all spices are imported, but it has been found that lead levels appear to be utmost in those which were purchased outside of the U.S.

Researchers of the current study say individuals need to understand that spice contamination is a global issue.

In the U.S., extreme levels of lead have not been prominent in the “mainstream” U.S. spice production, which comprises major brands or major food companies.

Case studies have also noted higher lead levels in people who imported spices from countries like India, Pakistan, and the Republic of Georgia. Researchers noted the low levels of lead occur in the environment naturally.

Prefer to use safe spices

According to the researchers, buyers should be confident in the quality of spices if purchased by major brands which are sold at trustworthy stores. Major brands source spices have proper systems in place to ensure product quality and safety.

Also, people should not give up on herbs and spices consumption since they are healthy for us. You can grow herbs yourself and also purchase them locally.

If you use commonly contaminated spices, like chili, turmeric, and paprika, be sure to have your children’s blood lead levels tested yearly, especially children under 6 years old. Parents should inform their pediatricians about herbal remedies given to their children.

And everybody should buy spices and medicines in the U.S try to avoid the use of spices or medicine purchased online or sent overseas by family and friends.







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Areeba Hussain
The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health.


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