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Can You Trust the Turmeric Spice in Your Cabinet?


turmeric Many people are interested in cooking with turmeric because its component that imparts the characteristic yellow color, curcumin, has been linked to an amazing list of health benefits. However, can you trust the spice you have in your kitchen cabinet? The FDA has issued a recall on several brands.

In July, excessive levels of lead were found in Fresh Finds Ground Turmeric, leading to its recall. Now, the recall has been expanded to include certain size containers of Spice Select, Gel, Clear Value, Lieber’s and Spice Supreme.

Since turmeric is the primary ingredient in curry, the turmeric recall has led to the recall of several brands of curry powder. The Oriental Packing Company announced a recall of curry sold under the brand names of Blue Mountain, Grace, Jamaica Choice, Oriental and Ocho Rios. This means more than 377,000 pounds of the spice on the market is affected.

You can see the official FDA recall notices here, here, and here.

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Adverse Health Effects of Lead

“Lead can accumulate in the body over time. Too much can cause health problems, including delayed mental and physical development and learning deficiencies. Pregnant women, infants and young children especially should avoid exposure to lead. People concerned about blood lead levels should contact their physician or health clinic to ask about testing,” writes the FDA on the recall page.

The adverse health effects of lead usually aren’t apparent until dangerously high levels amass. Babies may manifest learning problems and developmental delays, while children may display irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, digestive disorders and learning deficits. Symptoms in adults include high blood pressure, loss of memory, fatigue, mood disorders, headaches, pain in extremities and fatigue. Exposure to highly toxic levels of lead may impair organ function and cause permanent brain damage.

Other Turmeric Contaminants

Lead is only one of the contaminants often found in turmeric powder. It also may contain other heavy metals like arsenic, copper and cadmium as well as pesticides and bacteria such as Salmonella. In addition, turmeric products may be adulterated with fillers like wood dust and chalk, which may be concealed with a carcinogenic colorant called metanil yellow.

How to Find Pure Turmeric

Unfortunately, a product labeled organic may not be pure. The Consumer Education and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, India tested an array of turmeric powder products and found high levels of arsenic and copper in several organic brands. When browsing through turmeric powders in stores, you’ll see certification logos from various countries, most of which aren’t reliable indicators of purity. Your best bet is to look for the spice in health food stores and make sure it has a USDA Organic label. Aside from looking for organic certification, avoid products that list additives.

Don’t let the reports of impurities dissuade you from cooking with turmeric, as it is truly a wonder spice, filled with powerful health-enhancing properties. Simply be sure that you purchase from a reputable brand and don’t shy away from calling to ask about their purity tests. By law food manufactures must list contact information on the package of every product sold, so verifying with the brand itself should be easy. The same goes for supplements — a reputable brand goes to great lengths to ensure the purity of their formula. The benefits of curcumin as impossible to ignore, so be sure to shop responsibly.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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