Food Fraud: What to Look Out for When Buying Wholesale Spices

Posted by World of Spice 28/05/2021

When buying wholesale spices, look out for Oregano. It is often diluted with other green plant extracts, yet sold as pure herb.

Buying wholesale spices, herbs and seasonings is certainly the most convenient and cost-effective way to ensure that your restaurant offers a vibrant and authentic menu. The whole reason chefs use herbs and spices is to create dishes that are full of flavour. Although dried produce is a lot more potent than fresh, sometimes the supplier quality is a little lacklustre.

When buying your produce online, there is often no real guarantee that what you’re getting is what it says on the tin. We wanted to take a closer look at wholesale produce and what to look out for when you’re buying your dried ingredients online.

Quality Over Quantity

In catering, it should always be about quality over quantity. Unfortunately, there are so many suppliers that dilute their wholesale spices, herbs and seasonings to make it cheaper for them to produce. Unbeknown to the consumer, they are receiving an adulterated version of the produce ordered. Long-term, this means they will be using a lot more of the seasoning to achieve the desired flavour, meaning they will need to buy more to fulfil business demands.

Food Quality News recently tested a one large organisation’s Oregano samples for purity. Of the samples tested, 40% contained other green plant extract mixed with the authentic oregano. As a cheaper alternative, it’s clear that certain suppliers are unfortunately utilising this method frequently in wholesale produce.

How To Spot Bad Quality

Firstly, a freshly packaged and genuine dried herb or spice, will smell fragrant and strong as soon as you pop the lid off. More technical than the smell though, is taste. Wholesale spices that are 100% pure should be almost too strong. You should need just a small amount to give your dish the required kick. You should not have to douse it in lashings of dried produce to get a semblance of taste.

One of the most expensive spices in the trade is saffron. With its healing benefits, distinct taste and colouring, it is sold for a considerable amount of money per portion. Recently it was revealed that some suppliers were adding synthetic food colourings to a counterfeit powdered version of saffron. Real saffron should be noticeably frayed at one end, tasting sweet and bitter at the same time.

Alongside this saffron example, there are countless other herbs, spices and seasonings that are adulterated meaning restaurants are consistently receiving weaker versions of their produce to cook with. When you have a great quality herb in front of you and directly compare it with a diluted version, the two are incomparable. Visually, the difference is easy to see, you just need to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Cheap is not Cheerful

After the year the catering industry has had, we can see why it would be tempting to go for the cheapest option available. Be aware though, that what you think you’re getting, may not be the case. Cheaper versions of pure herbs and spices means low volatility and low flavour. Take pepper for example, one of the most common spices. Pepper can be cheapened simply by using left over dust from the outer shell of peppercorns to make ‘pepper’. Even with its low flavour and dark colour, it can still be legally sold as pepper because it has come from peppercorn shells. Consequently, those who buy this product are receiving a very poor-quality batch. Again, the lack of flavour means the restaurant will have to use a lot more of the product to create the desired taste, and this is not cost effective at all.

How Our Wholesale Spices, Herbs and Seasonings Differ

At World of Spice, we are dedicated to delivering the highest quality wholesale spices, herbs and seasonings direct to your restaurant door. We have strict controls when purchasing our produce and ensure we get consistency across the board. Our brilliant business relations with our suppliers abroad mean that they know and respect our core values. Our suppliers work with us to ensure we maintain our high standard and are assessed annually to ensure their business standards are in line with quality control expectations.

World of Spice hold a specification for all produce we purchase. Before we even look to purchase, they must meet all parameters within the specification. Once the product arrives, it is immediately assessed by our quality control department and samples taken from the batch. These samples are then assessed for flavour, taste and appearance, to name a few. They are then sent to a UK accredited laboratory to ensure they are within the specification parameters, proving suitability for food use.

World of Spice also run a full documented, fully traceable quality system approved by the BRC (British Retail Consortium), using the principle of HACCP (Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points). Our system is also audited annually, and we are graded by the BRC depending on how well our system and controls are being maintained, we currently hold an “A” grade. This means we can guarantee out customers ultimate assurance that our products are authentic and safe for consumption.

Get in Touch

At World of Spice, our dried produce is known internationally for its authentic and strong flavour. If you’re looking for wholesale spices, herbs and seasonings, we can accommodate your business needs. From bespoke blends to custom packaging and labelling, our comprehensive service can help you achieve delicious cuisine. For more information about our services and what we can offer you, please contact us at orders@worldofspice.co.uk, or feel free to call our team on 01277 633303. We look forward to hearing from you.


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