Heavy metals detected in certain herbs and spices, study finds

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Those who are looking to spice up their cooking in the new year might need to take some precautions, as some spices may contain concerning levels of dangerous toxins.

Consumer Reports’ Chief Scientific Officer James Dickerson told 8 News Now’s Heather Mills that 126 herbs and spices from 38 different countries were tested, and in every brand of oregano and thyme, concerning levels of heavy metals were detected. The metals were also found in almost all brands of ginger and basil that were tested, and in around half of paprika and turmeric brands.

Organic and non-organic spices had the same performances in these tests.

This happens because many spices are grown overseas where contaminated water can lead to heavy metals becoming present in the soil.

“Of all the spices that we investigated, one-third of them had concerning levels of heavy metals: lead, cadmium, or arsenic,” Dickerson said.

Studies have shown that frequent exposure to these metals can have damaging effects over time.

“For children, during their early stages of development, these heavy metals can adversely impact their neurological development as well as their respiratory development,” Dickerson said.

According to the American Spice Trade Association, their own analysis shows that spices make up less than .1% of dietary lead exposure in children ages one to six and that the risk is low in adults.

One positive result came from the tests — every tested brand of curry and garlic powder, black pepper, coriander, sesame seed, and saffron did not have concerning levels of metals.

“Think about what herbs and spices that you and your family use and diversify the amount that you use, so don’t overload on a particular spice,” Dickerson advised.

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