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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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CPG Sec. 525.750 Spices - Definitions

 

BACKGROUND:
 

No definitions for standards of identity for spices have been established in accordance with Section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Advisory standards were issued in 1918 as Food Inspection Decision (FID) 172, under the Food and Drugs Act of 1906. These defined the collective term "spices" and described a number of specific foods classified as spices. These underwent several revisions, the latest having appeared as Service and Regulatory Announcement (SRA) F.D. No. 2, Revision 5, November 1936. These advisory standards provided substantial guidance to the food industry concerning acceptable labeling of spices or flavorings, and foods in which these were used. At the same time they were useful as guides to regulatory officials, under both the 1906 Food and Drugs Act and 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
 

These advisory standards were considered in connection with preparation of the list of "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) spices and other natural flavorings in 21 CFR 182, and the promulgation of regulations concerning food labeling in 21 CFR 101.22.

After consultation with the American Spice Trade Association, the list has been brought up-to-date, and information from other sources has been added.
 

POLICY:
 

In the absence of definitions and standards of identity for spices, the following descriptions provide guidance concerning acceptable names for use in labeling spices and foods in which they are used. Only the commonly used spices are included; specific questions about other substances which may be considered as spices within the general definition may be referred to the Food and Drug Administration.
 

DEFINITIONS:
 

1. SPICES - General Definition - Aromatic vegetable substances, in the whole, broken, or ground form, whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutrition. They are true to name and from them no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed.
 

2. ALLSPICE (Pimenta) - The dried, nearly ripe fruit of Pimenta officinalis Lindl. The whole berries are globular in form, dark reddish-brown in color, have a eugenol-like odor and a strong aromatic, pungent taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

3. ANISE (Aniseed) - The dried, ripe fruit of Pimpinella anisum L., an annual herb of the parsley family. The dried seeds are greenish-gray in color, crescent shaped, and possess a strong licorice-like odor. The principal active ingredient of the volatile oil is anethole. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil and total and acid insoluble ash.
 

4. BASIL - Also known as sweet basil; the dried leaves of Ocimum basilicum L. The glossy leaves are grayish-green underneath and when crushed, have a delicate, sweet, warm, highly aromatic odor. The quality characteristics are measured by the total and acid insoluble ash and freedom from stems.
 

5. BAY LEAVES - The dried leaves of Laurus nobilis L. The pale green to green and occasionally brown-hued leaves are stiff and brittle and have a smooth and slightly shiny surface. The underneath part of the leaf appears dull in color. When crushed, the leaves have a delicate aromatic odor and an aromatic, bitter taste. The principal active ingredient is cineole. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, moisture, and freedom from stems.
 

6. CARAWAY SEED - Caraway seed is the dried fruit of Carum carvi L. The small, hard seeds have an aromatic, pleasant, warm, sharp taste. The principal active ingredient of the volatile oil is d-carvone. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture. Caraway N.F. must comply with the monograph in National Formulary XIV.
 

7. CARDAMOM (or Cardamon) - The dried, nearly ripe fruit or seed of Elettaria cardamomum L. Maton. The fruit pods consist of a husk which is either green or white (bleached) and in which the seeds are contained. The husk and consequently the whole pod has very little odor until it has been crushed. The hard, wrinkled, light reddish-brown to dark reddish-brown seed has a pleasant aromatic odor and a characteristic warm, slightly pungent, highly aromatic taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash and moisture.
 

8. CELERY SEED - The dried fruit of a biennial herb, Apium graveolens L. The light brown to brown-colored seeds have a characteristic celery aroma and a warm, bitter taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, non-volatile ether extract, total and acid insoluble ash.
 

9. CHERVIL - A small, low-growing annual of the parsley family. Anthriscus cerefolium L. Hoffm. It is similar in appearance to parsley, but sweeter and more aromatic. It has an anise-like fragrance with a slight hint of pepper flavor. Its quality characteristics are measured by total and acid insoluble ash and freedom from stems.
 

10. CINNAMON (Cassia) - The dried bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum Sees (Ceylon cinnamon), Cinnamomum cassia Blume (Chinese cinnamon), or Cinnamomum loureirii Nees (Saigon cinnamon). It is brown to reddish-brown in color. The principal active ingredient in the volatile oil is cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for the characteristic odor. The quality attributes are measured by volatile oil, aldehyde content of the volatile oil, non-volatile ether extract, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture. Cinnamon N.F. is made from the dried bark of Cinnamomum loureirii, and must conform to the monograph in the National Formulary XIV.
11. CLOVES - The dried, unopened flower buds of Eugenia caryophyllus (Sprengel) Bullock et. Harrison (formerly Eugenia Caryophyllata Thunberg). The dried buds resemble a round-headed nail, are dark reddish-brown in color, have a strong aromatic odor, and a hot pungent, aromatic taste. The principal active ingredient in the volatile oil is eugenol. The quality characteristics are measured by volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, moisture, and freedom from clove stems.
 

12. CORIANDER SEED - The dried ripe seed of Coriandrum sativum L. The globular, yellowish-brown seed has a slightly fragrant odor and a pleasant aromatic taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the total and acid insoluble ash.

13. CUMIN SEED - The dried seed of Cuminum cyminum L. The yellowish-brown seeds have a strong, distinctive aromatic odor and a warm, aromatic taste. The quality attributes are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.

14. DILL SEED - The dried, ripe fruit of Anethum graveolens L., an annual herb of the parsley family. The quality characteristics are measured by total and acid insoluble ash.
 

15. FENNEL SEED - The clean, dried, ripe fruit of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. The green or yellowish-tan colored seeds have a pleasant aromatic odor and possess a sweet anise-like taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

16. FENUGREEK - The clean, dried ripe fruit of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. The hard, brownish-yellow colored seeds have a strong, pleasant, burnt sugar-like odor and possess a farinaceous, slightly bitter taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

17. GINGER - The dried, or decorticated and dried, rhizome of Zingiber officinale Rosc. The roots are irregular, varying from tan to a pale brown color, or white if limed, and have agreeable, aromatic, slightly pungent odor, and an aromatic, pungent, biting taste. The principal active ingredient is zingiberene, which is largely responsible for the pungency. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, crude fiber, and moisture.
 

18. HORSERADISH - The root of Armoracia lapathifolia Gilib. Horseradish is a hardy perennial plant of the mustard family. It is generally dehydrated and when wet, emits a characteristic highly pungent, penetrating odor, plus volatile oils that may cause tears to flow. This is due to the glycoside sinigrin, which, decomposing by enzymatic action, liberates an acrid volatile oil similar to mustard oil in taste and properties.
 

19. MACE - The dried outer membrane of Myristica fragrans Houtt. It is yellowish-tan to reddish-tan in color, is flat, with horn-like branched, shiny pieces. It has a fragrant, nutmeg-like odor, and an aromatic, slightly warm taste. Its quality characteristics are measured by volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, non-volatile ether extract, and moisture.
 

20. MARJORAM (Sweet Marjoram) - The dried leaves, with or without a small proportion of the flowering tops of Marjorana hortensis Moench. The round, light green to light gray-green leaves possess a pleasant, aromatic odor and have a warm, aromatic, slightly bitter taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
21. MUSTARD SEED - The seed of Brassica hirta Moench (white mustard), Brassica nigra (L) Koch (black mustrad), Brassica juncea (L.) Coss., or varieties or closely related species of the types of Brassica nigra and B. juncea. Except for Brassica hirta Moench, which contains no appreciable volatile oil, the quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
22. MUSTARD FLOUR ("Mustard") - The powder made from mustard seed with the hulls largely removed and with or without the removal of a portion of the fixed oil. Its quality attributes are measured by volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, starch and moisture.
 

23. NUTMEG - The dried seed of Myristica fragrans Houtt., deprived of its testa, with or without a thin coating of lime (CaO). The surface of the seed kernels is furrowed in an irregular pattern; they are spheroidal (some nearly spherical nuts), grayish-brown to brown in color if unlimed; they have a characteristic, strong, aromatic odor; and an aromatic, warm, slightly bitter taste. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, non-volatile ether extract, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.

24. OREGANO - The dried leaves of Origanum vulgare L. or Origanum spp., or Lippia spp. (Mexican oregano). The light green-colored leaves, when crushed, have a strong camphoraceous aroma and a warm, pungent, and slightly bitter taste. The quality characteristics are measured by volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

25. PAPRIKA - The sweet, non-pungent, or, if specified, slightly pungent, dried, ground, red, ripe fruit of Capsicum annum L. The quality characteristics are measured by extractable color, total and insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

26. PARSLEY LEAVES - The leaves and seeds from a biennial herb, Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Mansf.
 

27. PEPPER, BLACK - The dried, immature berries of Piper nigrum L. The deep dark brown to black, deep-set wrinkled berries, when ground, have a characteristic, penetrating odor, and a hot, biting and very pungent taste. The principal active ingredient is piperine, which is responsible for the pungency. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, non-volatile methylene chloride extract, piperine, total and acid insoluble ash, crude fiber, and moisture.
 

28. PEPPER, RED (Capsicum, Cayenne) - The red, dried fruit of any variety of Capsicum frutescens L. or C. annuum L. It has the characteristic red to brown-red color and a sharp pungency. The principal active ingredient is capsaicin, which is responsible for the pungency. The quality characteristics are measured by the pungency rating (Scoville units), total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

29. PEPPER, WHITE - The dried, mature berries of Piper nigrum L., from which the outer covering or outer and inner coverings have been removed. As with black pepper, piperine is the principal active ingredient. The quality characteristics are measured by volatile oil, non-volatile methylene chloride extract, total and acid insoluble ash, crude fiber, and moisture.
 

30. ROSEMARY - The clean, whole dried leaves of Rosmarinus officinalis L. The shiny, dark green to brownish-green colored, rolled, margined leaves have the shape and appearance of pine needles. It has a tea-like fragrance; when crushed, they have a slight camphoraceous odor. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, moisture, and freedom from stems.
 

31. SAFFRON - The dried stigma of Crocus sativus L., a perennial plant of the iris family. The quality characteristics are measured by the total and acid insoluble ash.

32. SAGE - The dried leaves of Salvia officinalis L. The green to gray-green colored, oblong to lanceolate leaves, covered with fine, short hairs possess a strong, fragrant and aromatic odor relatively free of any camphoraceous note, and free of objectionable terebinthic odor. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, moisture, and freedom from stems.
 

33. SAVORY - The dried leaves and flowering tops of Satureia (Satureja) hortensis L. The pale brownish-green leaves have a fragrant aromatic odor and a warm, aromatic, slightly sharp taste.
 

34. STAR ANISEED - The dried, ripe fruit of Illicium verum Hook. f. The principal active ingredient is anethole. The quality characteristics are measured by volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash.
 

35. TARRAGON - The dried leaves and flowering tops of Artemisia dracunculus L. It has a pleasant, anise-like odor and taste.

36. THYME - The dried leave and flowering tops of Thymus vulgaris L. The dried, brownish-green, curled leaves, when crushed, yield a fragrant, aromatic odor, and have a warm, aromatic, pungent taste. The principal active ingredients of the volatile oil are thymol and carvacrol. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, and moisture.
 

37. TURMERIC - The dried root of the perennial herb, Curcumma longa L. The quality characteristics are measured by the volatile oil, total and acid insoluble ash, moisture, crude fiber, and color power (per cent curcumin).

NOTES:

1. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried or dehydrated onions and garlic are not considered to be spices. When used as an ingredient in foods they should be declared on the label by common or usual names.

2. Paprika, tumeric and saffron are color as well as spices. When used as ingredients in foods they shall be designated as "spice and coloring," unless each is designated by its specific name, in accordance with 21 CFR 101.22(a)(2).

Issued: 10/1/80