Strategies to further strengthen controls on the spice supply chain are to be developed following a meeting of trade bodies and food industry representatives held in the wake of recent nut contamination alerts.

Industry groups met at a workshop hosted by the Food Standards Agency at its London HQ yesterday (25 February) to discuss weaknesses in the global herbs and spices supply chain following the recall of a raft of products contaminated with nut protein.

Speaking after the event, which was attended by representatives from bodies including the FSA, British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, and Seasoning & Spice Association, a spokesman for the FSA said: “The effectiveness of existing controls were discussed and the workshop provided opportunity to gather and share industry and regulatory expertise of the global supply chain for herbs and spices.

“The findings from the workshop will be used to inform strategies aimed at further strengthening the robustness of the controls in this sector.”

The groups had been brought together after a batch of Bart Ingredients ground cumin tested positive for almond protein in January, and supplier Santa Maria pulled products including branded lines and Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons own label meal kits from shelves after a batch of paprika was found to be contaminated with almond.

Speaking ahead of the event, BRC food policy director Andrew Opie said retailers had been working with the FSA for some time, sharing intelligence and test results to address the current issue. “Convening a global supply chain analysis involving all relevant parties should help us build a better understanding of current controls to address any weak points,” he added. “The lessons from this exercise will be used to augment our existing controls.”