CAUTION: seasoning your food may contain insect fragments

The spices you use in your food may contain pieces of insects. That’s right, the probability of this happening is high, especially if you acquired them in São Pauloaccording to research carried out by the Adolfo Lutz Institute (IAL).

The survey confirmed the presence of unrelated ingredients and also insect fragments in several types of seasonings. Such a situation, according to legislation, constitutes a crime of fraud and failure to follow good production practices.

The seasonings analyzed by the Institute were turmeric, colorific, nutmeg and paprika. All samples were collected in cities in São Paulo, and the results surprised the researchers.

Sample analysis result

Be careful with the seasoning you use in your food, as it may contain insects, according to research – Photo: Internet/Reproduction

In turmeric and nutmeg, the most common ingredients were corn and cornstarch. In paprika, the same pattern of adulteration.

For the director of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Brazilian Food Industry Association (ABIA), Alexandre Novachi, this type of situation is enough to trigger a change in the product’s classification.

“Oregano that has other types of leaves cannot be sold as oregano, but rather as an oregano-based condiment. The consumer has the right to know what they are buying. A cinnamon that contains 30% starch cannot be considered cinnamon,” he says.

Presence of insects

The situation, however, becomes even worse when it comes to the presence of foreign elements, such as fragments of insects. They were found in 81% of turmeric samples and 93% of nutmeg samples.

In the case of turmeric, 380 fragments were identified, more than twice the amount allowed. It is worth mentioning that, although they are strange elements, the rule stipulates a certain permission limit, which is constantly exceeded.

In nutmeg, up to 80 fragments for every 10g are tolerated, but this depends on the type of insect, since, in the case of cockroaches and ants, can create health risks. This limit is stipulated by the DRC, which is a set of laws created in Brazil in 2012 and updated in 2022.

If the insects found in the product are disease vectors, such as cockroaches, the seasoning may be characterized as unsuitable for consumption.

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The majority identified in the samples, however, are field pests that, within the limit, do not pose risks.

Tampering found

Regarding adulterations, 30% of the paprika samples were considered irregular: 85% of them contained corn starch and 46% contained annatto and corn.

In the case of turmeric, 81% had insect fragments and 30.3% had unreported vegetables.

In nutmeg, 10% had elements not listed in the product description, while 11 samples had a quantity of insects above the permitted amount. The only unadulterated product was the colorific one, which contained a lot of bixin dye.