Heavy metals found in organic turmeric powder

We tested six brands of organic turmeric powder for safety, especially for the presence of pesticide residues and heavy metals, namely lead, copper, tin, zinc, cadmium, arsenic and mercury. The brands tested were Asal, 24 Mantra Organic, Fab India Organics, Morarka Organic Down to Earth, Sattvic Organic and Natural and Vikalp Organic Product.

CERC tested the organic turmeric powder brands as per the standards applicable to conventional turmeric powder. The samples were tested against the values set by the Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins & Residues) Regulations, 2011.

No pesticide residues were detected in any of the brands. The six brands were also free of lead and tin. Zinc, mercury and cadmium were within the limits in all brands.

High Copper and Arsenic

The bad news was that three brands had higher than permissible levels of copper. Fab India had the highest level of 7.20 mg/kg as against the limit of 5.0 mg/kg. Arsenic was also found to be beyond the safe limit in four brands. While the standard limit is 0.1 mg/kg (maximum), Asal had the highest level of 0.52 mg/kg.

Long-term exposure to excessive amounts of copper could cause male infertility, liver damage, kidney failure, coma and death. Long-term exposure to arsenic from food can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.

Highly priced

A price comparison revealed that organic turmeric powder brands purchased from the Indian market are priced between Rs. 25 and Rs. 85 per 100 g. Other brands not making organic claims are priced between Rs. 21 and Rs. 25 per 100 g. What is shocking is that consumers are paying much more and consuming products that have adverse effects on health.

Lack of labelling information

As per the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011, every packaged food article has to be labelled and provide certain information including the list of ingredients, nutritional information, net quantity, date of manufacture and packing and best before date.

All brands gave incomplete information. Asal was the worst performer and flouted all norms. The Asal product was packed in a plastic packet with hand written weight information. The second from the bottom in this respect was Vikalp which mentioned only weight, price and address of manufacturer.

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