Turn to Tara: Study shows dangerous levels of heavy metals in spices
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means many of you are likely stocking up on your favorite spices like parsley, sage, and rosemary to prepare the perfect holiday meal.
But along with the heavenly smells and flavors they create, the seasonings could contain an ingredient not on the menu - potentially dangerous heavy metals.
Consumer Reports recently put 126 of America's most popular dried herbs to the test.
Lisa Gill says the results were cause for concern. She tells News 12 roughly one third of the products they tested, 40, had high enough levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium to pose a risk for children and adults.
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"There was nothing indicated on the label that 'hey, this might contain heavy metal.' If its organic, it didn't matter," Gill says.
While Gill says spice companies are required to self-regulate, and test their own products from time to time, the Food and Drug Administration still has not set limits on heavy metals for spices.
Though, New York recently became the first state to enact their own restrictions, since most the products you see on store shelves come from other less-regulated countries like China and India.
The Turn to Tara team reached out to seven top brands for reaction, but only heard back from the FDA, who emailed a statement that reads in part:
"The FDA has the authority to take enforcement action on a case-by-case basis. When the FDA identifies a safety concern with imported food, shipments may be refused entry into the U.S. Firms may also be listed on an import alert. We are working to strengthen our relationships with federal partners, industry and advocates."
If you're still concerned, but don't want to serve up bland food this Thanksgiving, here are some tips from Consumer Reports:
- Consider buying spices with the lowest levels of heavy metals. The testing showed black pepper, saffron, garlic and curry powder carried the lowest risk, while thyme and oregano carried the most.
- Don't assume that certain brands are safer than others. Whether a product was organic or came from a big name - made no difference in the results.
- You can always try growing and drying your own herbs. Some supermarkets even sell ready to grow planters.
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