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Consumer Reports' investigation shows high levels of contaminants in some spices

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Posted at 11:19 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 12:20:51-05

(CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — You may already have started cooking for Thanksgiving, and maybe your favorite recipe calls for herbs and spices. However, Consumer Reports explains why there could be danger in your spice cupboard.

According to a new Consumer Reports investigation, flavor is not the only thing those pinches and dashes of spices are adding to your food.

“We tested 126 products and found that roughly a third had combined levels of arsenic, lead, and cadmium that were high enough to raise health concerns,” said Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter.

In 31 products, levels of lead were so high that they exceeded the maximum amount anyone should have in a day, according to CR’s experts.

Oregano and thyme were found to be the most troublesome, with all of the products tested having levels that CR experts find concerning.

The American Spice Trade Association says it’s almost impossible to rid spices of all heavy metals because of the unavoidable presence in the environments where they are grown.

So when you’re shopping for herbs and spices, what should you do?

“The good news is we did find plenty of spices below our threshold of concern such as black pepper, curry powder, coriander, saffron, white pepper, and garlic powder,” said Gill.

One tip: Think about growing and drying your own. It’s easy to do even if you don’t have a green thumb or an outdoor garden.