Heavy Metals Content of Spices Available on the Market of Asmara, Eritrea

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Ezra Russom
Goitom Kfle
Ghebray Asgedom
Tedros Goje


Spices and herbs are being added to diet as ingredients often to improve color, aroma and acceptability of food. The presence of heavy metals in spices could result in the accumulation of these metals in the body organs. The amount of essential and non-essential heavy metals (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn) in spices commonly used in Eritrea were determined using a dual viewing ICP-OES. Fe was found to have the highest concentration of all the studied metals in all studied spices that ranged from 197-2364 mgkg-1. Co was found to be the least accumulated metal in all the species except in Rosemarie and Cinnamon. The level of Fe in all the studied spices (except Cinnamon), the level of Cd in Cumin and Cinnamon, the level of Cu in Allspices, the level of Mn in Black pepper, Allspices, Nutmeg and Cinnamon, the level of Pb in Turmeric and the level of Zn in Nutmeg were found above the WHO Maximum Permissible Limit (MPL). Cumin, Cinnamon, Black pepper and Nutmeg are constituents of the spice called Allspices. Allspices (comprising of almost fourteen spices) is added to berbere which is traditionally prepared and most consumed powder in Eritrea. Cumin was found to be the greatest accumulator of Co, Cr, Ni and Fe. Moreover, the levels of Cr and Cu in Cumin were alarming. Therefore, based on the results of this study consumption of Cumin, Cinnamon, Allspices, Black pepper and Nutmeg may have a serious health threat to consumers because berbere is consumed in large amount and with high frequency by Eritrean people. Based on the results of this study, it is recommended that either the consumption of berbere has to be reduced or the addition of spices to berbere has to be controlled.

Heavy metals, spices, WHO permissible limits.

Article Details

How to Cite
Russom, E., Kfle, G., Asgedom, G., & Goje, T. (2019). Heavy Metals Content of Spices Available on the Market of Asmara, Eritrea. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, 11(3), 156-163. https://doi.org/10.9734/ejnfs/2019/v11i330158
Original Research Article


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