Spices are one of the most important additions to foods across the world. Since ancient times spices have been the most demanded and expensive product all over the world. Considering this, since ancient times, spices have been traded extensively all over the world with very high value till date. They not only fulfil the function of adding colour and flavour to the food, but also fulfil purposes like preservation, medicinal benefits, and nutrition and so on. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, spices have found various benefits and applications, along with enhancing myriad aspects of food products. Today, spices are also listed as commodities and are traded over in various commodity exchange markets.
India is known as the home of spices, producing a lot of spice varieties all around in the country in different weather conditions that are specific to the type of spice cultivated. Spices testing parameters depend on a number of factors like changes in the weather, or any contamination in the entire process of production to packing that can largely affect the quality of spices. When it comes to spices, quality is what matters over quantity. If the spice quality is up to the mark, then even a small quantity can fulfil the very purpose. Hence, it is very crucial for spice quality to be kept in check by conducting timely spices quality testing by spices industries or spices exporters/traders at a recognised testing facility. To ensure that the spice quality is maintained as per set standards and that they are safe from any contaminants like pesticide, metals, and other adulterations, spice testing is done to maintain the quality and its true taste. Spices quality testing ensures that your spices meet the national standards and international standards for export as well.
Quality assurance of spices directly corresponds to fetching best rates and sure shot growth of business, export and trade for the spice industry. Quality assurance comes into play right from procurement, then processing to packaging of the spices. All throughout the supply chain, from sourcing to final production, quality standards are set as per specifications.
Dried foods generally are low on risk, as they rely on drying to low-moisture content to constrict the growth of micro-organisms. But spices bring with it a different set of complications. As spices cannot be heated using conventional methods to maintain its true taste and colour, quality assurance among spices is of paramount importance. It is very important to have the same sense of taste, colour and appearance of the spices maintained every time as per the set specifications. In case of any deviations the companies should have a retrieval to spot the defect in the supply chain.
To summarize, Quality assurance in the spice industry is met through four main stages:
Spices are high value commodities that have to stand the test of various spices quality parameters like taste, texture, appearance and also must be safe for consumption. Spice quality testing and analysis not only approves the above mentioned parameters but also approves the additives that are being used if any. It also monitors if any harmful contaminants are being used and regulates the 3Ps- namely procurement, processing and packaging.
Dried food is generally low on risk of contamination due to restricted growth of micro-organisms. Hence, most of the food items are sun-dried, heated or refrigerated to restrict the growth of moisture. But spices bring with it a different set of complications. Since spices cannot be heated and dried like other herbs, to maintain its colour, texture and flavour, getting spices quality testing done at a certified spice testing laboratory service is mandatory. Spice testing also ensures that individuals never face any health hazards in the form of food poisoning due to any contaminants or adulte
Spices testing is done across various spice quality testing parameters that include the likes of checking Physical Parameters, Microbial Parameters, Residue content, Toxins Screening, Metal screening. To name a few, the following parameters are tested:-
India is known worldwide for its spices. But due to the climatic variations, there is a risk to the quality of spices at every stage of the process. In addition, as per the grade of the spices, various physical, chemical and biological parameters have to be fulfilled to have a good market value. Also, spices are at a constant risk of contamination across various stages of handling and production. This contamination can be in the form of pesticide residues, agro-inputs, heavy metals among various other things. To ensure that the spices that are sold are of best quality and are fit for consumption, spice quality testing is essential.
The quality of spices depends on a number of parameters like physical appearance, colour, size, flavour, its nutritional content and sometimes its medicinal application also. When spice testing is done by analyzing all the necessary parameters and they conform to the market standards with total compliance, they receive an approval from the official body. The spice testing when conforms to the standards then it is said to be of marketable quality or export quality when it fulfils export standards and regulations.
India is known for being one of the biggest spice exporters in the world. To maintain appropriate quality, different countries and continents have varied quality requirements for spice export. To look at the mandatory tests required for export of spice and spice products and export related document can be referred to. As per the export destination, the quality parameters for particular spices varies, and they range over a number of identifications ranging from physical, chemical, biological analysis of spices to conform the quality requirements for Spice Export.
Additionally, Chemical analysis also measures the moisture content, the amount of water insoluble steam volatile oil, the amount of carbon-free ash and the amount of acid insoluble ash.
whatever form of the product is as per the form of the spice product, the particle size is studied to help understand the quality.
It also measures the amount of foreign organic and inorganic matter.
In addition to this, the spice density is also tested, which further helps in decisions of storage and packaging.