Lab tests find insect parts, larvae in dried turmeric spices

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Tim Plunkett, of Woodland Hills, takes turmeric to reduce inflammation, but a recent report on what else might be in the bottle turned his stomach.

"The sample that they found, I believe there was like 90 fragments. Of those, whole cigarette beetle larvae and some rodent hair," Plunkett said.

Yes, lurking amidst powdered turmeric was larvae and animal hair.

"We found insect parts in every one of the spices we tested, both organic products as well as regular spices that are on the market. (We) found anywhere from just a few insect parts per two-teaspoon serving to up to 195 insect parts in that same serving size," said Tod Cooperman, president of Consumer Lab.

Consumer Lab has been testing products independently for the last 15 years.

For their turmeric test, they purchased five different brands, organic and standard, looking for heavy metals and filth contamination.

None had high levels of heavy metals, but insect parts ranged from seven to 195 fragments in a two-teaspoon serving.

"People probably don't want to see larvae in their turmeric," Cooperman said.

Plunkett was stunned at the findings.

"Not something I was hoping to supplement with," Plunkett said.

Experts say this may be more of a gross factor than a health risk. The FDA does not set a limit for substances like rodent hairs when it comes to turmeric.

The FDA does set limits for curry powder, which contains turmeric.

That same two-teaspoon serving may contain up to 40 insect fragments or two rodent hairs.

If turmeric was held to that same standard, only one of the five products would have been approved.

Many spices offer health benefits, but a little consumer knowledge and moderate consumption may make a big difference.
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