The American Spice Trade Association’s Statement on Lead in Turmeric

For more information contact:
Cheryl Deem: 202‐331‐2464
American Spice Trade Association

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a voluntary recall of Turmeric Powder after it was found to contain high levels of lead. The product was under the brand “Pran” and was produced in Bangladesh.

Lead is a malleable metal and is widely used around the world for a variety of purposes. Environmental contamination can result in very low levels of lead in water, food and in ingredients such as turmeric. Sources can include soil, the use of farm machinery using leaded gasoline or equipment used in processing.

The FDA has not set maximum permissible levels of lead in spices. Turmeric is frequently used as a color additive in food and while there is no specified maximum permissible level of lead in turmeric, the Agency has set a maximum permissible level of not more than 10ppm for many other natural‐source food color additives. The FDA found levels of lead in the recalled turmeric at 48ppm through its sampling and testing; it is unusual for environmental contamination to result in levels of 48ppm.

Intentional adulteration, including the addition of lead chromate to enhance the color of certain spices, has occurred. Such practices are illegal and ASTA provides guidance to its members on how to ensure the integrity and safety of their products. Most spices are grown in developing countries because of the climatic conditions they require. ASTA has published guidance on the importance of knowing your supply chain, the importance of good manufacturing practices and incorporating sampling and testing programs into food safety plans.

ASTA provides a wide array of information and education for the spice industry. ASTA also has a self‐regulation program through which companies that suspect product has been adulterated in any way can report it for independent testing by ASTA.

ASTA has represented the interests of the American spice trade for more than 100 years and actively supports a range of programs to ensure the trade of safe and wholesome spice.