Labeling Spices and Spice Blends

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Labeling Spices and Spice Blends

When labeling spices and spice blends, it’s important to consider a variety of factors, including what is considered a spice, and how to treat spices in a recipe vs. as a standalone product. This blog will cover:

FDA's Definition of Spice

The FDA defines the term “spice” as:

… any aromatic vegetable substance in the whole, broken, or ground form, except for those substances which have been traditionally regarded as foods, such as onions, garlic and celery; whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutritional; that is true to name; and from which no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed.

Below is a list of some spices that can fall under the “spice” term. 

  • Allspice
  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Caraway seed
  • Cardamon
  • Celery seed
  • Chervil
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander
  • Cumin seed
  • Dill seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Mace
  • Marjoram
  • Mustard flour
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Pepper, black
  • Pepper, white
  • Pepper, red
  • Rosemary
  • Saffron
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Sesame*
  • Star aniseed
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

For a complete list of spices go to https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-21/chapter-I/subchapter-B/part-182/subpart-A/section-182.10 (Ingredients not found on this list must be called by their common name.)

Special Case Ingredients

Sesame*

While Sesame still appears on the list of Spices, recent regulations will affect how Sesame must be declared moving forward. 

The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education & Research (FASTER) Act, signed into law in April 2021, establishes sesame as the ninth major U.S. food allergen and mandates that all foods entering interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023, that contain sesame must bear a sesame allergen declaration, even when used as a spice, and allowed under the term “spice.”

Information on using Genesis R&D Foods to label sesame can be found in this blog.

Salt

If your product contains salt, you must declare “salt” in your list of ingredients. Salt does not fall under the “spice” blanket term.

Ingredient Lists & Nutrition Facts Labels

Ingredient Lists for Spices within Another Product

If you use one or more spices in the recipe, you can list the ingredient(s) by using either specific common or usual names, or by using the declaration “spice(s),” “flavor,” “natural flavor,” or “artificial flavor.”

However, if you use certain spices that can also be used as color (such as paprika, turmeric, and saffron), you should say “spice and coloring.”

INGREDIENTS: Apple Slices, Water, Cane Syrup, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Spices, Salt, Natural Flavor, and Artificial Flavor

Remember, per the FDA definition, spices are for flavoring, not nutritional, purposes, unless they’re substances traditionally regarded as food. Good examples of this are garlic powder and granulated onions. Those must be declared by their common name.

Ingredient Lists for Single Ingredient Spices or Spice Blends

If your product is a standalone jar of spice, the package must declare the name of the spice (e.g., Ground Nutmeg). Most of the time, the name of the spice on the front of the container will suffice.

If it is a blend of spices, most ingredients must be listed by name. However, blended spices that contain both “spice” and “non-spice” components can list the spice portion of the blend as “spice,” but the “non-spice” components (e.g., salt, garlic powder, etc.) must be identified by name.

INGREDIENTS: Chili Pepper, Salt, Spices, and Garlic.

Nutrition Facts Labels for Single Ingredient Spices or Spice Blends

A Nutrition Facts label is required on a single spice ingredient product if:
  • the amount of sodium per serving is 5g or more
  • the spice contains 5 Calories or more per serving

You do not have to have a Nutrition Facts label on spice products that contain less than 5 calories per serving, and all other nutrients can be rounded down to 0.

You can use Genesis R&D to verify whether your product requires a Nutrition Facts Label. To do so, create a one-serving recipe in Genesis R&D and bring in ¼ tsp of your spice (The RACC for one serving of spice is ¼ tsp, or 0.5 g if not measurable by a teaspoon.) Then view the Nutrition Facts Label or the Spreadsheet report to check the nutrient values for your spice Recipe.