Exporting Spices and Herbs to Europe? What You Need to Know

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Exporting Spices and Herbs to Europe? Here’s What You Need to Know!

 

Exporting Spices and Herbs to Europe

 

For companies around the globe that export spices and herbs, Europe offers exciting opportunities. Exporters from developing countries, like India, will benefit from the rising popularity of global ethnic cuisines, as well as the growing trend of healthy living. Importers in Europe are also searching for high-quality, sustainably harvested spices and herbs, which can open doors for suppliers that adhere to strict production and sustainability guidelines.

Suppliers are required to ensure high-quality products as well as high-standard packaging. As a result, the consistency of herbs and spices is verified in a variety of ways in order to satisfy market demand.

What are the mandatory requirements by the EU?

  • Aside from border controls, almost all mandatory standards for importing spices and herbs (and food in general) are related to food safety. The General Food Law is the European Union’s legal structure for food safety. The European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) was created by the General Food Law.
  • The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) oversees developing national food safety regulations and establishing a system for official food controls. The law focuses on the traceability of all food throughout the entire supply chain, including exporters from developing countries. To do so, all food-service operators must incorporate the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) framework into their daily operations.

Contamination control

  • Suppliers from developed countries should use preventative steps such as heat treatment or fumigation to avoid insect contamination. Can use fumigants that have been licensed by the government. In the European Union, fumigants such as methyl bromide and ethylene oxide are prohibited.
  • Manual harvesting is popular, and soil amendments, fertilizers, and water are all essential inputs in the development of herbs. They are common in horticulture, but they may also be microbial pollution sources.
  • Salmonella is the most common microbiological contaminant found in spices and herbs. In 2019, the RASFF recorded 90 cases of spices and herbs being rejected at the border due to salmonella contamination. Other microbiological contaminants include yeasts, moulds, E. coli, pathogen or toxin, etc.
  • For some items, the European regulation on microbiological standards for foods sets limits for pathogenic microorganisms, their toxins, and metabolites, but does not set limits for spices.
  • Colourants, flavourings, and sweeteners can be present in certain herbs and spices. There are detailed additives and flavourings guidelines that include a list of substances that are permitted.
  • Several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) found in smoke, including benzo(a)pyrene, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Spices and herbs can be contaminated by high levels of PAHs, particularly if they are heated or smoked before use. Except for cardamom and smoked Capsicum spp., current European legislation on contaminants sets a maximum standard of PAH for almost all spices and herbs.
  • Maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food products have been established by the European Union. If your product contains illegal pesticides or pesticides in higher concentrations than permitted, it may be removed from the European market. The European Union publishes a list of permitted pesticides for use in the European Union on a regular basis.

Quality control:

Several factors influence the quality of spices and herbs, some of which are as subjective as taste or flavour. Product-specific quality standards can exist. For spices and herbs in general, some consistency criteria are used, including the following:

  • Purity: spices and herbs must be free of diseases, foreign bodies, foreign odours, and other problems. According to the European Spice Association (ESA), the overall presence of external substances in all spices should be less than 1% by weight.
  • Moisture content: The European Spice Association’s Quality Minima Document specifies the minimum moisture content for various spices and herbs.
  • Mesh size: When spices and herbs are powdered, they are ground to move through a sieve with a precise diameter. Sieves are frequently defined in micron sizes, with average specifications ranging from 95 per cent to 99.5 per cent of ground product passing through the sieve.
  • Aroma and flavour: some spices and herbs must have a distinct aroma and flavour. Spice and herb flavour profiles are mostly determined by the chemical components of essential oils. Depending on the variety, cultivar, regional, climatic, and growth conditions, the flavour profile varies.

Packaging and labelling requirements:

Export packaging must comply with European weighting regulations, as well as be healthy for public health and the environment. The first condition is that the packaging is food safe (food grade) and that the material in the packaging matches the quantity specified on the label (in weight or volume). Consumer packaging products that encounter food (such as cans and jars) are subject to strict health regulations.

  • Labelling regulations in the European Union enable people to obtain detailed information about the quality and composition of food items. Labelling aids customers in making educated decisions when buying food. Labelling of energy content and fats, saturates, carbohydrates, protein, sugars, and salt amounts.
  • Presentation of allergens (such as soy, nuts, gluten, and lactose) in the list of ingredients for pre-packaged foods (emphasis on font, design, or background colour).
  • The mandatory details must be typed in a minimum font size of 1.2mm.
  • Each box’s label must include the following information:

-The packer’s and/or dispatcher’s name and physical address

-Name of the product

-Originating country

-Weight and class

-Traceability

You must have the European organic logo and the control authority’s code number for organic produce. Consumers in the destination country must speak in a language that they understand. In the European Union Directive 2009/32/EC, there is also non-product-specific packaging and labelling regulation that applies to all products sold in the European Union.

Food Safety Certification:

Even though food safety certification is not required by European law, it has become a requirement for almost all European food importers. Many European buyers will demand certification from the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). The most common certification programs for spice and herb processors and traders are:

  • International Featured Standards (IFS)
  • British Retail Consortium Global Standards (BRCGS)
  • Food Safety System Certification (FSSC 22000)

The majority of food safety certification programs are similar to the ISO 22000 standard.

India has always been known for its spices and herbs, like coriander, turmeric, curry leaves, etc., and with the boost in the consumption of natural ingredients globally, the situation is a golden opportunity for Indian exporters. With the global pandemic of Covid-19 lurking, the importance of consuming herbs and spices has never been higher! If you’re an exporter of spices and herbs, do keep these points in mind, before exporting!

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