The great de-spicing
I'm a label reader. But I've noticed a rather important piece of information that's missing from many spice bottle labels...
...and that information is country of origin.
Above is a container of Diamond Crystal Sea Salt, and they do labels right. Ingredient is plainly listed, country of origin plainly listed as "PRODUCT OF U.S.A." That means the salt was both processed and packed in the United States.
SE Grocers Essentials brand (i.e. Southeastern Grocers, a brand sold at Winn-Dixie supermarkets) sometimes gets labels right.
This is a bottle of their garlic powder from the front:
...and the rear:
This is a label done correctly. The spice is originally imported from China, and then packaged in the USA. I have no complaint about this because the label does provide the proper information that keeps the buyer informed in plain simple language. They even went out of their way to put the PRODUCT OF CHINA in bolder text just so you could see it better. Again, no complaint here.
The onion power from the same brand is suspect.
Here's the front label of SE Grocers Essentials onion powder:
This is a label done incorrectly. It does not state where the spice was made nor where it was packed. All the label tells you is the distribution business it came from. Not good.
Another example of a bad label is McCormick Paprika:
From the front:
From the rear:
Sure, it may be non-GMO and was packed in the USA, but the label does not state where the spice originally came from. Is this a USA spice? China spice? German spice? Somewhere else? That information isn't present.
Unless PRODUCT OF is on the label, you don't know where it came from
The Diamond Crystal sea salt is from the USA, both for origin and packing and has "PRODUCT OF" right on the label. That's as good as it gets. The single line "PRODUCT OF [country here]" does signify both the origin and packing location unless stated otherwise.
"Distributed by" does not inform the consumer where the spice was made nor its packing location.
"Packed" alone does not automatically mean "this is also the spice's country of origin." All that gives is where the spice was packaged before being shipped to market.
Why does country of origin matter?
I trust USA based processing more so than processing performed in other countries.
It is a bit shocking that country-of-origin information is missing from so many spice labels. Heck, I couldn't even find a single pepper spice label that stated where it came from. And pepper is one of the most common spices there is!
I had to throw out a bunch of spices
When I went through the spices I had, the majority of them did not state country-of-origin at all. I threw out all of them except the black pepper - and that's only because I literally cannot find a black pepper spice where the label states its origin.
As of now I've de-spiced my kitchen and went back to just sea salt and pepper. But I will be on the lookout for spices of the affordable variety that state plainly where they're from. Hopefully, at some point, every spice will state its origin on the label.
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