Herbs and spices are often sold in their dried and finely chopped/powdered forms, and are globally traded commodities which can command high prices. This combination can mean that these products are the target for food fraud, because part of the powdered/chopped product can easily be replaced with a similar colour powder or similar coloured leaf. This allows the adulterer to make the same good profit on sub-standard and potentially harmful product.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is traded in huge quantities (over 26 million tonnes in 2016) and the powdered form is the most likely to be adulterated, with instances of talcum powder, chalk powder, and powdered starch being used as bulking agents to defraud buyers. In a recent publication by the EU Food Fraud Network’s Herb & Spice Coordinated Control Plan (EUCCP), over 1,800 samples were analysed to determine the level of adulteration within a range of herbs and spices. The results ranged from 6% of samples adulterated (paprika/chilli) to a massive 48% for Oregano (largely adulterated with olive leaves).
This proficiency test is suitable for any laboratory testing powdered garlic for authenticity and is suitable for a range of different methods.
A carefully designed quality assurance programme, validated by the use of independent proficiency testing can help to give confidence in the laboratory analysis, and show that if present, adulterants can be identified, preventing sub-standard product from entering the market.