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Cass Ingram

Oregano Fraud – Spice Corrupted with False Additives

Oregano Fraud – Spice Corrupted with False Additives

Cass Ingram
In this world low-price and bargain items cheap equals the propensity to cheat, that is people demanding or expected cheap prices leads to a tendency for severe compromising. This could be no more true than in the spice trade. To meet the demands of a low-price-oriented market traders in the spice oregano have been forced to cut the spice with false additives or even look-alike material. In this case the common false additives are leaves of olive trees, myrtle trees, and even the leaves of sumac bushes.
This was first reported in the book The Cure is in the Cupboard (same author), where the falsification of the commercial spice was first revealed. Here, it was reported, the leaves of a variety of plants were used to cut or dilute the spice in order to make it profitable for the demands of the spice trade. It was also reported that a kind of weak or depleted oregano was used to cut it further, which is the spent spice. This is the spice residue from the distillation of the oil, a greatly inferior material which has lost much of its aromatic flavor and medicinal powers. All this was the result of personal investigation of the policies and procedures of spice traders and pickers in the Mediterranean villages.
In the Telegraph article additional findings have been made based upon sophisticated food analysis tests. Here, it was found that numerous oregano samples were diluted with ground up olive and myrtle leaves.
While there is nothing unhealthy about these materials this is not entirely the issue. People could have allergic propensities for the additive materials, and that could prove dangerous. Yet, a more universal issue is the fact that this is deception, in other words, fraud. People are paying money for a spice labelled as oregano and they are instead buying something else and surely purchased a much weakened and depleted produce versus their original expectations and intent, which was to buy pure oregano spice.
Per the Telegraph:

Tests of oregano on sale in both large stores and specialist sellers found that one in four samples of oregano contained ‘other ingredients’

Tests of oregano on sale in both large stores and specialist sellers found that one in four samples of oregano contained 'other ingredients'

Dried oregano has been found to routinely be contaminated with other substances.
It has become a kitchen cupboard staple among fans of Mediterranean cooking, but as much as 70 per cent of the dried oregano in packets and jars sold in Britain is “fake”, a study suggests.
In a series of tests encompassing both large stores and specialist sellers, one in four samples of oregano contained “other ingredients.” Usually the containers had been stuffed with harmless olive or myrtle leaves, which are almost identical in appearance (they probably have not tested for sumac leaves, which they will find in the samples and which can cause allergic intolerance, though rare).
The study for consumer group Which? found the proportion of “added” ingredients in products marketed as oregano ranged from 30 per cent to 70 per cent. It is unclear whether the deception was intentional or the result of poor processing and handling by the companies concerned.
The findings follow disclosures earlier this year that peanuts and almonds had been found in cumin, leading to comparisons to the 2013 discovery that some supermarket burgers contained horse meat.
The food watchdog said the oregano findings were “obviously a concern.” It is investigating the companies concerned. Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “It’s impossible for any shopper to tell, without the help of scientists, what herbs they’re actually buying.”
Professor Chris Elliot, director of Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, tested 78 samples of oregano from 50 retailers, large and small, and found 19 samples were contaminated.
“Clearly we have identified a major problem and it may well reflect issues with other herbs and spices that enter the British Isles through complex supply chains,” he said.
A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said: “The potential for food fraud in the herbs and spices sector is something that we are already exploring following concerns about undeclared allergens in spices earlier in the year.
There are other issues. One such issue is the use of false forms of oregano in the spice tubs. This is commonly done with a plant harvested in Mexico, known as Mexican sage or Lippia gravolens. The lippia species is not even an oregano plant but rather belongs exclusively to the sage family. Methods of harvesting and processing are largely unknown. This type of oregano is readily tainted, as it is ground find and thus any type of green material could be added as an extender.
There is a potential risk with this form of oregano which is salmonella contamination. In August 2014 some 1000 cases of ground spice only were voluntarily recalled by McCormick for potential salmonella contamination. Per potential risk was brought to McCormick’s attention by FDA during routine testing. This recall affects 1,032 cases that were shipped of the affected date codes.
McCormick has alerted customers and grocery outlets to remove the product with the affected date codes from store shelves and distribution centers immediately and to destroy this product in a manner that would prevent any further consumption.

Yet, a person could look at the label of ground oregano spice tubs in the marketplace. Many of them say on the ingredients “Mexican oregano.” There is no oregano which naturally grows in that country: only sagebrush or sage-like plants with an oregano-like smell and taste.
While some one fourth of the UK-tested spices proved fraudulent, this is not the entire answer. It is likely that many of these contain non-oregano species such as Mexican sage. Furthermore, surely, in many cases the distilled out, depleted spice has been added back as an extender.
Oil of oregano, too, can be corrupt. This is true if it is made with non-oregano species such as Mexican sage, Thymus capitiatus (that is French-source or Moroccan-source oregano oil), marjoram species, such as Origanum compactum, among others.
100% true wild Mediterranean-source oregano is highly potent and greatly adds to the flavor of food. Taken in capsule form it can prove to be medicinal, particularly as an aid to digestion and also for stimulating a healthy immune response. As the steam distilled oil it acts as a potent aid to immunity, also as a natural germicide or antiseptic. The oil can be used topically for wounds of any kind and also as an antivenom. For any toxic reaction in the body oil of wild oregano from pure, whole food wild oregano leaves, is a potent antidote. So, use wild oregano, but just make sure it is 100% real.

McCormick Recalls Ground Oregano for Possible Salmonella Contamination

2 thoughts on “Oregano Fraud – Spice Corrupted with False Additives”

  1. Dr. Cass, your oregano is the only oregano that i use. I luv your products and am grateful for your integrity and knowledge you share. Thank you and blessings to you .

  2. Nancy,
    Thank you for your support. It is because of individuals like you that I continue to work hard to share my knowledge of natural ways to heal the body.
    Stay well!!

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