Susanne Kuehne, Decernis
Food Fraud Quick Bites

Spice Up Your Pizza…with Olive Leaves

By Susanne Kuehne
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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis

Fraud was detected in one-fifth of herbs and spices in a recent EU study.

Food fraud, herbs spices
Find records of fraud such as those discussed in this column and more in the Food Fraud Database, owned and operated by Decernis, a Food Safety Tech advertiser. Image credit: Susanne Kuehne

Who wants shredded olive leaves on their pizza instead of oregano? Herbs and spices keep being a target for food fraud, a European Commission study that analyzed nearly 1,900 samples revealed. The study showed that about 20% of herbs and spices are manipulated, with oregano leading the top of the list, followed by spices that include pepper, cumin, curcuma, saffron and paprika. Europe is a leading importer of herbs and spices at 300,000 tons a year. The entire supply chain from country of origin, processing, packaging, importing to distribution, is potentially vulnerable to fraud. In most cases, undeclared plant material was added, and sometimes toxic dyes were found—and these are detrimental to human health.


  1. Food Processing. (December 1, 2021). “EU study reveals herb and spice food fraud.”

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Susanne Kuehne, Decernis

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