Risk ranking of chemical hazards in spices and herbs

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


Introduction: Spices and herbs bring flavour and nutrients to cuisine; however, they may expose consumers to various contaminants that pose a risk to human health.
Purpose: To rank the risks of chemical hazards in selected spices and herbs that have the potential for contamination as input for setting up monitoring programs.
Methods: A risk ranking toolbox for food and feed related issues (van der Fels-Klerx et al. 2015) was used to systematically select a ranking method. The method was applied to rank chemical hazards in paprika/chili, black pepper, nutmeg, basil, thyme, and parsley leaves. The severity and probability of the hazards were scored as low, medium, high, or severe. Literature and data were collected from scientific publications, alerting and (national) monitoring data, and other relevant European Union (EU) reports and databases to determine the scores.
Results: A risk matrix approach was selected to rank various chemical hazards including natural contaminants such as mycotoxins and plant toxins, environmental contaminants such as pesticides, dioxins, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and deliberate contaminants such as dyes. The risk ranking showed that the following hazards were seen as the riskiest with respect to human health: the mycotoxins aflatoxins and ochratoxin A, the pesticides chlorpyrifos and triazophos, and the dye Sudan I.
Significance: A risk matrix provides a transparent risk ranking approach based on available data without the intensive demands required by risk assessments. These results can assist EU initiatives focusing on sampling strategies for monitoring programmes with respect to chemical contaminations in spices and herbs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
EventSPICED symposium: Spices and herbs - a risk-free taste experience? - BfR - Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 1 Jun 20162 Jun 2016


ConferenceSPICED symposium: Spices and herbs - a risk-free taste experience?
Abbreviated titleSPICED Symposium 2016


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