Herbs and spices supply chain under scrutiny after nut findings

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain

Santa Maria has expanded a recall and dropped its Spanish supplier
Santa Maria has expanded a recall and dropped its Spanish supplier
Cases of cumin and paprika contaminated with almond protein will be the subject of an industry meeting tomorrow (25 February).

The Food Standards Agency, British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation and Seasoning and Spice Association are will highlight the supply chains for herbs and spices.

The four organisations will identify potential weaknesses in the chain and discuss measures to strengthen consumer protection across the sector.

Santa Maria drops supplier

Santa Maria has been at the centre of recalls in the UK, Denmark, Norway and Sweden​. It has also expanded the withdrawal in Sweden and Norway​.

The firm said it has terminated the relationship with its Spanish supplier despite it still being unclear how almond proteins were found in a delivery of paprika powder.

Jason Feeney, COO at the FSA, said its important consumers know food is safe and is what it says it is.

“In the light of recent incidents it seems sensible to take a broader look at the herbs and spice chain to identify if there might be areas where the FSA and industry should be paying particular attention.”

A number of products have been recalled after undeclared almond protein was found in cumin and paprika, which is a health risk to people with nut allergies.

The FSA launched a sampling programme after ground cumin and products containing ground cumin tested positive for undeclared peanut protein in the US and Canada.

FDA advises cumin avoidance

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising people who are highly allergic to peanuts to avoid products that contain ground cumin or cumin powder because of peanut protein findings.

FDA is identifying companies that received shipments of the ground cumin that contained undeclared peanuts and removing these products from the market.

Most finished products are expected to have low amounts of ground cumin, and low amounts of peanut protein. Products made before 2014 are unlikely to be affected.

Ground cumin may be sold as a spice, in a spice mix or kit, or as a minor ingredient when used in finished food products like soups and chilies.

Con Yeager Spice Company, Goya Foods, Whole Foods Market, The Spice Mill, B&M Inc and Nac Foods Co. are just some of the firms and products involved in the recalls.

FDF and BRC welcome workshop

Barbara Gallani, director of regulatory science and health at the FDF, said its members and those of the Seasoning and Spice Association have controls covering all stages of production, processing and distribution.

“We fully support the FSA’s Global Chain Analysis workshop as this exercise will provide an opportunity for us to share our in depth knowledge of these global supply chains as well as our experience in managing and controlling known risks.”

Andrew Opie, director of food policy at the BRC, said lessons from the UK workshop will be used to boost existing controls. 

“Retailers have been working with the FSA for some time sharing intelligence and test results with them to address the current issue. 

“Convening a global supply chain analysis involving all the relevant parties should help us to build a better understanding of current controls to address any weak points.”

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