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"Clove stems: A 5% allowance by weight for unattached clove stems over and above the tolerance for Other Extraneous Matter is permitted. 'Laurel Leaves and Sage: "Stems" will be reported separately for economic purposes and will not represent a pass/fail criteria. cOregano: Analysis for presence of Sumac shall not be mandatory if samples are marked "Product of Mexico." ''White Pepper: "Percent Black Pepper" will be reported separately for economic purposes and will not represent a pass/fail criteria.

'Fennel Seed: In the case of Fennel Seed, if more than 20% of the subsamples contain any rodent, other excreta or whole insects, or an average of 3 mg/lb of mammalian excreta, the lot must be reconditioned.

'¡Ginger: More than 3% moldy pieces and/or insect infested pieces by weight. ^Broken Nutmeg: More than 5% mold/insect defiled combined by weight.

AWhole Nutmeg: More than 10% insect infested and/or moldy pieces, with a maximum of 5% insect defiled pieces by count. 'Black Pepper: 1% moldy and/or infested pieces by weight. JWhite Pepper: 1% moldy and/or infested pieces by weight. 'Whole Insects, Dead: Cannot exceed the limits shown. 'Extraneous Matter: Includes other plant material, eg foreign leaves

"Clove stems: A 5% allowance by weight for unattached clove stems over and above the tolerance for Other Extraneous Matter is permitted. 'Laurel Leaves and Sage: "Stems" will be reported separately for economic purposes and will not represent a pass/fail criteria. cOregano: Analysis for presence of Sumac shall not be mandatory if samples are marked "Product of Mexico." ''White Pepper: "Percent Black Pepper" will be reported separately for economic purposes and will not represent a pass/fail criteria.

'Fennel Seed: In the case of Fennel Seed, if more than 20% of the subsamples contain any rodent, other excreta or whole insects, or an average of 3 mg/lb of mammalian excreta, the lot must be reconditioned.

'¡Ginger: More than 3% moldy pieces and/or insect infested pieces by weight. ^Broken Nutmeg: More than 5% mold/insect defiled combined by weight.

AWhole Nutmeg: More than 10% insect infested and/or moldy pieces, with a maximum of 5% insect defiled pieces by count. 'Black Pepper: 1% moldy and/or infested pieces by weight. JWhite Pepper: 1% moldy and/or infested pieces by weight. 'Whole Insects, Dead: Cannot exceed the limits shown. 'Extraneous Matter: Includes other plant material, eg foreign leaves ing. High moisture contents can cause mold or microbiological growth. Testing for moisture can be done by two methods: vacuum oven drying or toluene distillation. Vacuum oven drying generally gives a higher result because some of the volatile oils may be driven off as well as the moisture. Therefore, this method is generally only recommended for capsicums and dehydrated vegetables where volatile oil is not an important parameter.

Heavy and light filth indicates the amount of foreign material present in the spice. Metal shavings, rocks, insect fragments, and glass will all be found by these methods. Filth testing is especially important in ground spices because these items may be difficult to identify by other methods. The spice to be analyzed is placed in a dense organic solvent such as carbon tetrachloride. The heavy foreign matter will sink and the spice will float. By physically separating these two fractions, heavy and light filth can be determined.

Total ash is the residue left after ignition of the spice. Acid-insoluble ash is the residue left after treating the total ash with hydrochloric acid. These tests also determine the amount of foreign material present. Rocks, metal, and other foreign items will remain behind as residue. Ash is a measure of metal, sand, and minerals naturally occurring in the spice. Acid-insoluble ash is a measure of only metal and sand present.

Figure 1. Flowchart of spice processing.

Dust

Product Inlet

Dust

Product Inlet

Figure 2. Vacuum gravity separator (air table).

Heat units indicate the relative heat of red peppers. The higher the number, the hotter the red pepper. The Scoville test is a threshold taste test of a red pepper ethanol extraction using five trained panelists. Scoville test has been the most common method for determining the heat level in red peppers, although variance between labs can be very high. ASTA has recently dropped the approval for the Scoville method. A more accurate and ASTA-approved method is high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), which is an analytical test instead of an organoleptic method. The correlation between Scoville and HPLC methods is questionable.

Extractable color of paprika is determined by an extraction with acetone followed by a spectrophotometric test. This method results in the ASTA color of paprika, such as 100 ASTA paprika. These units do not necessarily correlate with surface color. Curcumin content of turmeric is determined by a similar method.

Microbiological. Spices can contain very high levels of bacteria. Most come from third world countries where sanitary conditions are poor. Often spices are laid out in fields, sides of roads, or banks of rivers to dry and are subject to a high degree of contamination. It is not uncommon to have total plate counts on black pepper up to 40 million per gram. Even onion powder grown in the United States can have counts as high as 1 million per gram. The highest counts are usually found on allspice, black pepper, caraway, celery seed, cumin, paprika, and onion powder. Typical microbiological tests performed on natural spices are total plate count, yeast, mold, total coliforms, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella.

Often spices are treated with sterilizing agents to reduce bacterial loads. The two most common treatments are ethylene oxide and irradiation. Some spice suppliers also use steam to sterilize spices. Both ethylene oxide and irradiation have disadvantages; however, microbial counts can be significantly reduced by using one of these methods.

Ethylene oxide is a gas that is used to reduce microbial loads in spices. It can cause about a 90% reduction in microbial counts. This chemical has been found to be a carcinogen and may be physically retained on the spice after the process has been completed. Chlorohydrins that are toxic can also form. The FDA has a 50 ppm residual tolerance. Currently the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are debating its continued approved use.

Irradiation is an ionizing radiation that is used to kill microorganisms in spices. It is a very effective treatment, providing almost 100% kill of bacteria (8). However, certain consumer groups are very vocal about their opposition to this treatment due to its misguided association with radiation. Spices can be irradiated with levels up to 3 Mrad. FDA regulations state that an irradiated spice must be labeled as "treated with/by irradiation" and the irradiation logo prominently displayed. If a food contains irradiated ingredients, the finished product is not required to be labeled as irradiated (9). With the increasing E. coli incidence in meats, this may be an ideal time to influence con sumer perception about this very effective treatment. FDA is currently considering alternate labeling regulations.

Description of Whole Spices

Allspice, Pimenta dioica L. (formerly Pimenta officinalis) is the dried, unripe berry of a shiny leafed evergreen tree indigenous to the Western Hemisphere. The berries are reddish brown, round and smooth, and about 1 cm in diameter. The name allspice comes from the flavor description: a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Another, less common term for allspice is pimento. Allspice is imported from Jamaica, Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras. In 1997, the United States imported about 2.3 million lb of allspice (1).

Anise seed, Pimpinella anisum L., is the seed of a small annual herb of the parsley family. The grayish-brown oval seeds are about 0.5 cm long. Anise seed has a strong licorice-like flavor and is grown primarily in Spain, Egypt, and Turkey. The United States imported about 2.6 million lb in 1997 (1).

Basil, Ocimum basilicum L., is the leaf of an annual herb of the mint family native to India and the Persian countries. The leaves are greenish gray and about 5 cm long and 2 cm wide before drying. When purchased whole, basil is actually dried pieces of leaves. Primary sources are France, Egypt, and the United States. Domestic basil is much more expensive than the imported varieties because it is mechanically harvested and dried. Basil has seen phenomenal growth in the last 30 years. Only 40,000 lb were imported into the United States in 1964 compared with 6.1 million lb in 1997! (1).

Bay leaves or laurel leaves, Laurus nobilis L., are large light-green elliptical leaves, up to 8 cm in length and 3 to 4 cm wide. The flavor is fragrant and sweet with a bitter note and is used most commonly in soups and stews as well as pickling spices. Principal countries exporting to the United States are Turkey and Greece. There is also a domestic bay leaf that is packed for retail sale, Laurus cali-fornica, which does has a slightly different flavor and is longer and narrower than its imported counterpart.

Capsicum peppers, Capsicum frutescens L., include red peppers, chili peppers, and sweet bell peppers. Red pepper, also known as cayenne, is ground chili pods, generally the small elongated and hottest varieties, which are blended to produce a product with standard heat units. Heat levels, expressed as either Scoville heat units or HPLC heat units, in whole pods vary from crop to crop. The hottest varieties are grown in Africa, China, and India. Chili pepper is the ground product of larger, milder peppers, primarily grown in California, New Mexico, and Mexico. Variances in color are primarily due to a caramelization process that processors employ and pepper variety.

Caraway seed, Carum carvi L., is the fruit of a biennial plant of the parsley family. Each seed is a half of the fruit and is about 0.75 cm long, curved, with ridges lengthwise. Caraway is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, although it is primarily exported now from The Netherlands. The flavor is warm and acrid, similar to dill seed. The United States imported about 6.9 million lb in 1997 (1).

Cardamon, Elettaria cardamomum Maton, is a large perennial belonging to the ginger family. The spice is im ported whole in oval, greenish pods, 1 to 2 cm long, which contain 15 to 20 brownish-black seeds. These seeds produce the sweet, aromatic flavor of cardamon. Most cardamon is grown in India, Guatemala, and Ceylon. It is a minor spice, with the United States only importing about 0.5 million lb a year (1).

Celery seed, Apium graveolens L., is the dried fruit of a biennial herb native to southern Europe called smallage. It is different from Pascal celery, which is eaten as a vegetable in the United States. The seed is oval, brown, and very small, about 0.25 cm in length. It has a warm, bitter flavor. It is now primarily imported from India.

Cinnamon. There are many species of cinnamon or cassia. The type most commonly imported into the United States is not cinnamon at all, but rather cassia (Cinna-momum cassia Presl—Chinese cassia or Cinnamomum burmannii Blume, Indonesian or Korintji cassia). Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum Presl—Ceylon or Seychelles cinnamon) is lighter in color and milder than the two varieties of cassia previously mentioned. It is most commonly exported to Great Britain and other countries. Both cinnamon and cassia are the bark of evergreen trees, which is peeled off and allowed to curl into cinnamon sticks. Another, less common type is Saigon cinnamon, Cinnamomum loureirii, which recently is being imported from Vietnam again. Before the Vietnam War, this was a much more common supply for cinnamon.

Cloves (Eugenia caryophyllata, Thunb.) are the dried, unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree of the myrtle family. Cloves are about 1 cm long and resemble a rounded top nail. The flavor is strong and aromatic. Cloves are grown in many parts of the world; however, the chief exporters are Madagascar and Brazil.

Coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum) is the dried ripe fruit of an annual herb native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Coriander is a round light brown seed about 0.5 cm in diameter with vertical ridges. The leaves of the coriander plant are known as cilantro, which is used extensively in Latin American, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. The flavor of coriander seed is mild and fragrant. Most coriander is currently imported from Canada and Morocco.

Cumin, Cuminium cyminum L., is a small annual herb of the parsley family. The dried fruit, commonly referred to as the seed, is oval, about 0.5 cm long and similar in appearance to caraway. Cumin is used extensively in Mexican and Indian foods and has a strong earthy and bitter flavor. Cumin is grown and exported from the Middle East, India, and Turkey.

Dill, Anethum graveolens L., is an annual herb related to the other spices of the parsley family. Dill seed and dill weed are from the same plant. The seeds are oval, tan, and about 0.5 cm long. The flavor is reminiscent of caraway. Dill is grown in Egypt, India, and the United States.

Fennel seed, Foeniculum vulgare Mill., is the dried fruit of a perennial plant native to southern Europe. The seed is oval and curved, about 0.75 cm long, and greenish in color. The flavor is similar to anise, but less sweet. The consumption of fennel in the United States has increased significantly in the last 20 years, primarily due to its use in pizza topping and Italian sausage. Fennel is imported primarily from India and Egypt, about 7.5 million lb in 1997 (1).

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) is a littleused spice in the United States. Its flavor is maplelike and bitter. The spice itself is a hard, tan pod containing 10 to 20 seeds. It is primarily used to make imitation maple flavor and curry powders in the United States. Fenugreek is imported from India and Morocco.

Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is a perennial herb with thick, tuberous roots or rhizomes. These tubers are often described as shaped like deer antlers and are tan. To cultivate, the rhizomes are dug up, washed, dried, and often peeled. The flavor is pungent and spicy. Ginger is available fresh, crystallized, and dried. It is imported from China, India, and Jamaica. More than 29.5 million lb (including fresh) were imported in 1997 (1).

Marjoram (Marjorana hortensis, Moench) is the leaves of a perennial of the mint family and is a close relative of oregano. Its leaves are green-gray and about 1.25 cm long. The flavor is aromatic, camphoraceous, and bitter. Marjoram is native to western Asia and the Mediterranean region. Principal sources today are France and Egypt.

Mustard seed (Brassica hirta—white or yellow mustard and Brassica juncea—Oriental or brown mustard) is small in size, about 3 mm in diameter. Color ranges from a light tan (B. hirta) to a reddish brown (B. juncea). Both types of mustard contain the enzyme myrosinase, which reacts with glycosidic compounds (sinalbin in B. hirta and sini-grin in B. juncea) in the presence of moisture to release its characteristic pungency (10). Acidic liquids do not trigger this reaction, due to the lowered pH inactivating the myrosinase, but will preserve the pungency if added after it first develops in water. B. juncea, upon the enzymatic reaction, produces the compound allylisothiocyanate, which gives a powerful aroma, much like horseradish (10).

Mustard seeds are available in three primary forms: whole mustard, often used in pickling spices; ground mustard, which is used mainly in the sausage industry; and mustard flour. Ground mustard can be treated with heat to deactivate the myrosinase enzyme. This type of ground mustard is used in fresh sausages because the active enzyme can react with the protein in the meat. Mustard flour is the ground seed after the husk or bran is removed. Mustard flour is generally milled to a very fine flour and is a blend of yellow and Oriental mustard seeds. Mustard flour is used primarily in the salad dressing and sauce industries. The principal producing countries of mustard are Canada and the northern plains of the United States.

Nutmeg and mace (Myristica fragrans, Houtt) are both from an evergreen tree native to the islands of the East Indian archipelago. The tree produces an apricot-like fruit containing a large brown seed about 4 cm long and 2 cm wide. This is the nutmeg seed. Mace is a lacy, netlike orange covering over the seed. The flavor of both is very similar: sweet and warm. Nutmeg is generally milder and sweeter while mace has a sharper flavor. Nutmeg and mace are primarily grown in Indonesia, Grenada, and Trinidad. Nutmeg is the product used most often in the United States. Import volumes from 1997 show it 14 times the volume of mace (1).

Oregano. Two types of oregano are commonly used in the United States. Origanum vulgare L. is a perennial of the mint family and is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Its leaves are dark green, hairy, and about 1.5 cm long. The flavor is bitter with a green note. It is grown primarily in Greece and Turkey. Mexican oregano, Lippia graveolens has a distinctly different flavor. Its leaves are larger than the Mediterranean variety. Mexican oregano is commonly available on the West Coast and used most often in Mexican, Southwest, and Tex Mex recipes.

Parsley. Petroselinum sativum L. and Petroselinum cris-pum are two varieties of parsley. The former is the curly leaf variety grown primarily in California and the most common type dried today. The flakes are available in a variety of sizes and bright green in color. The flavor is very mild.

Paprika, Capsicum annum L., is the ground dried fruit pods of a small bushy plant. The pods are orange to bright red and used primarily for their coloring properties. Most paprika is sweet and mild and is grown primarily in California, Spain, Morocco and Hungary.

Pepper, black and white. Piper nigrum L. is the berry of an evergreen-climbing vine native to the coast of southwestern India. The berries are shriveled, dark brown to black, and about 0.75 to 1.0 cm in diameter. Black and white pepper both come from the same plant. White pepper is a ripe peppercorn with the dark hull removed. Black pepper is the unripe berry, which is simply dried. Green peppercorns, growing in popularity recently, are the immature berry of the same vine and are often freeze-dried. Primary sources of black pepper are the Malabar Coast of India (often called Tellicherry if the berry is large enough), the Lampung district of Sumatra in Indonesia, and Brazil. Vietnam has recently emerged as a viable source for black pepper. White pepper is usually imported from the Muntok area of Indonesia. Black pepper is the largest volume spice imported into the United States. In 1997, 112 million lb were imported (1)!

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis L., is an evergreen shrub of the mint family. The leaves are green, narrow, and about 2 cm long, resembling pine needles. It is currently exported from Albania, France, and Spain.

Saffron, Crocus sativus L., is the most expensive spice, costing an average wholesale price of about $200/lb in 1997. It is the dried stigmas of the flower of a purple crocus. The cost is due to the hand harvesting of the three delicate stigmas on each flower. It takes about 250,000 Stigmas to produce one pound of saffron (11). Saffron has a bitter flavor but is most prized for its bright yellow color. Spain is the primary producer.

Sage, Salvia officinalis L., is an evergreen shrub of the mint family. The leaves are silver gray to green and velvety to the touch, ranging from 5 to 7 cm long. Sage is primarily used in poultry dishes and sausage, especially fresh pork sausage. In 1997, 4.4 million lb were imported into the United States (1), primarily from Albania and Turkey.

Savory, Satureja hortensis L., is an annual herb of the mint family. It has narrow, dark green leaves about 0.5 to 1.0 cm long. Savory is used very little in the United States. The flavor is sharp, aromatic, and resinous. The major producing countries are Albania and France.

Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus L., has grown in popularity in recent years. It is a small perennial plant of the sunflower family. Its leaves are large (about 5 cm long), narrow, and dark green. The flavor is fragrant and bittersweet with a licorice-like undertone. It is grown in California and also imported from France.

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris L., is a perennial shrub native to the Mediterranean region. The leaves are narrow, grayish green, and only about 0.5 cm long. The flavor is aromatic and pungent, often used in poultry seasonings and Creole dishes. Thyme is imported primarily from Spain and France.

Turmeric, Curcuma longa L., is a perennial herb of the ginger family. Its thick underground rhizome is boiled, cleaned, dried, and ground into a powder. It has a musty, earthy flavor and is mainly utilized for its bright yellow color. Turmeric is used in curry powders and prepared mustard. There are two types grown in India, Alleppy and Madras. Alleppy is most commonly imported into the United States and has a higher curcumin content than the Madras type.

Other Spice Products

Extractives of spices are the oil-soluble flavor extract of the natural spice. Two types are available: essential oils and oleoresins. Essential oils are the steam-distilled fraction of the oil from the spice. Spice oleoresins are the solvent extract of the spice, containing the essential oil as well as other nonvolatile extractives.

Oleoresins provide the user with a more rounded, closer duplication of the natural spice flavor than essential oils. For example, oleoresin black pepper contains not only its volatile oil, but also piperine, which is the compound that gives it the black pepper bite, or pungency. Black pepper essential oil contains the volatile flavor components only, with no piperine present. Other nonvolatile components present in spice oleoresins include heat components (capsaicin-red pepper), fixatives (from the fatty oils from the seeds of celery, anise, fennel, etc), antioxidants (rosemary and sage), and pigments (paprika and turmeric) (12).

Both essential oils and oleoresins are very concentrated forms of the spice flavor, with usage levels in finished products usually less than 0.01%. Using extractives will standardize the flavor of the finished product compared with natural spices, which can vary from years, origins, or lots. Spice extractives are free from microbial contamination and enzyme activity found in cinnamon and black pepper (12). Extractives also provide flavor with no particulates present in a finished food product. Shipping and storage are easier with extractives, and shelf life is longer than natural spices. The flavor of extractives, however, is not as complex as in their natural spice counterparts.

Many extractives are also available in water-soluble versions from suppliers for use in products where water is the aqueous phase. Most commonly available products contain emulsifiers to make them water soluble.

Spice extractives can be difficult to use in food processing because they are very concentrated. Oleoresin black pepper, for example, is very viscous and hard to pour. Soluble spices were developed by the spice industry to alle viate these problems. Soluble spices are spice extractives plated on a salt or dextrose carrier. They are free-flowing powders, often formulated to approximate a one-to-one replacement to the ground spice. Other products that have been developed for manufacturers include spray-dried extractives and spray-dried products mixed with a carrier to again approximate a one-to-one replacement ratio.

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