I. SPICE SPECIFICATIONS
A spice can be defined as the dried aromatic parts of natural plants, whose characteristics such as color and constitution may vary depending on year of harvest and place of harvest, among other factors. The quality of processed spices can also vary due to differences in separation and milling processes used. For these reasons it has been deemed necessary to establish quality standards or specifications for spices. Although there are no unified standards or specifications worldwide, nations that export spices often have their own quality standards to maintain their own reputations, while nations importing and consuming spices establish specifications for the purpose of consumer safety.
The quality standards most used as international guidelines are those of the
American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) and the U.S. Federal Specifications:
Spices, ground and whole, and spice blends. The International Organization for
Standardization established its own standards in 1969 for the quality of various spices, and there are also specifications for spices imported into and consumed in the United Kingdom and Canada. Many nations such as India and Malaysia, which are major spice-exporting nations, have their own exporting specifications in which, for example, the quality grade is classified according to the amount of extraneous matter, moisture content, etc. This chapter will discuss some major specifications for spices in both spice-consuming and spice-exporting nations.
B. Specifications in Spice-Consuming Nations
1. Specifications of the American Spice Trade Association
These are specifications for unprocessed spices imported into the United States, including edible herbs. The specifications were published first in 1969, followed by several revisions through 1975 . The ASTA specifications are now being used in many other nations,