Spices

The use of all spices and herbs has increased dramatically over the years. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), imports of spices in 1997 was more than 638 million lb (1).

Definition

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has defined spice as any "aromatic vegetable substance in the whole, broken or ground form, except for those substances which have been traditionally regarded as foods, such as onions, garlic, and celery; whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutritional; that is true to name; and from which no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed" (2). The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) goes on to define the specific spices and herbs as "spices." In addition, paprika, saffron, and turmeric are identified by the FDA also as colors and must be declared as such on ingredient labels (2). See Table 1 for a listing of the common spices.

Table 1. Spice Classification

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