Gluten and Food Manufacturing (Part 2)


Gluten and Food Manufacturing (Part 2)

According to recent market researches, nearly 30% of Americans say they’re trying to avoid gluten, up from 25.5% three years ago, and this is among consumers who have no symptoms of celiac or gluten sensitivity but who believe gluten-free food to be better for digestive health.


Gluten in Spices

Some anti-caking agents are made from wheat flour or starch, both of which contain gluten. Anti-caking agents prevent clumping and improve storage, but they compromise the integrity of products labeled all natural.

But a more serious problem is gluten sensitivity, believed by some to be as high as 50% of the population. Spices and herbs do not naturally contain gluten but many seasoning blends are often combined with a carrier agent. The carrier can include salt, sugar, lactose, whey powder, starches, or flours, which can cause reactions in hypersensitive people. 

The United States Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires any products that contain wheat flour or wheat starch to be declared on food labels. 


Gluten-Free Facility

We are a gluten-free facility. What does that mean? It means that all our products are certified to be 100% gluten-free, and there is no danger of cross contamination. Choosing spices from companies that have good manufacturing practices, are willing to have their products certified gluten-free, and maintain stringent food safety and labeling standards are some of the ways you can insure that your product is gluten-free, from start to finish.

Check out some of our gluten free recipes on our Spicely blog!



FAQ: How Much Do You Know About Gluten?
Anti Caking Agents and Free-Flow Agents In The Food Industry
How Many People Have Gluten Sensitivity?


Gluten and Food Manufacturing (part 1)


Gluten and Food Manufacturing (part 1)

It is well established in the medical world that what humans eat greatly affects how we feel in both the short and long term. Gluten has become a widespread topic of discussion as to how food products like pasta, bread and crackers may be harming us.


What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is a protein composite that is found in cereal grains like wheat and rye; it's what makes bread rise, sauces thicken, and dairy products emulsify. Gluten is the Latin word for glue, and just as its etymology implies, gluten is a very sticky protein. 

With any type of gluten intolerance, undigested protein residue sticks to the walls of the small intestine and activate an autoimmune response, leading to an assault on the intestinal lining. Untreated, it can lead to permanent tissue damage and loss of intestinal lining.

In the past 20 years a significant percentage of the population has expressed a sensitive to gluten, either from wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or Celiac’s disease. Celiac’s disease is an extreme manifestation of this sensitivity, and it’s estimated that 1% of the world’s population has this disease, which represents about 2 million people within the United States.


So why the sudden rise of gluten intolerance and Celiac’s disease?

Medical diagnostic capabilities have leaped in recent years. What was previously diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or vitamin deficiency can now be correctly diagnosed as gluten intolerance. 

The only way to treat gluten intolerance is simply to avoid ingestion. Due to increasing awareness of these conditions, people have started to look at omitting gluten from their diets in hopes of relieving their digesting woes, whether they have the disease or not.

With the consumer population becoming increasingly conscious, producers will need to be able to present products that are safe for everyone to eat – be it organic, kosher, vegan, or gluten-free.


Turmeric: What's The Buzz?


Turmeric: What's The Buzz?

Turmeric is one of our top sellers, along with garlic and onion, for good reason. Savvy consumers appreciate pure natural food ingredients and are in touch with the potential healing properties of spices and their active components. 

Curcumin is a well known antioxidant derived from the rhizomes of the Indian spice turmeric, and is what gives this spice its vivid orange colored hue. It’s known to have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, as well as other amazing potential health values. Both turmeric and curcumin extract have been widely studied for their capacity to kill various cancer cell lines.

Basic culinary spices are great for naturally stimulating body detoxification. This humble spice is a valuable addition to a regular healthful diet, and can be included in a variety of recipes or in combination with other spices for pennies a day. Turmeric can be used to prepare egg salads, curries, rice, onions, mayonnaise, salad dressings, lentils, soups, fish, chicken, turkey, and vegetarian dishes.

Our turmeric powder, oleoresin, and curry blends can be used with the knowledge that they’re completely gluten free, vegan, kosher, and 100% certified organic, which means they have not been irradiated so you get all the benefits nature intended.


(1) Chemical in spice turmeric kickstarts cancer-killing mechanisms in human saliva
(2) Targeting Cancer Stem Cells by Curcumin and Clinical Applications.



Steam Treatment of Spices.


Steam Treatment of Spices.

All products intended for human consumption must undergo sanitation steps that eliminate deadly pathogens. These steps might include cooking, pasteurization, pathogen-killing chemical washes, and irradiation. In the spice industry, steam treatment, irradiation, and the use of ethylene oxide are common.

OSI uses steam treatment at the lowest effective temperatures to ensure plant efficacy because chemicals and irradiation are not compliant with organic practices and standards.


So What Is Steam Treatment?

Steam treating uses saturated steam under pressure for a specific duration and temperature in order to kill microorganisms. It is the preferred method in the organic industry because it kills spores without damaging the vital properties of the plant like enzymes, antioxidants, polyphenols, and volatile oils.

Some key concerns with steam treatment, if not done correctly, are that it could lead to moisture gain and mold growth in the product, destruction of antioxidants, and microbial regrowth.

To prevent this, OSI employs a rigorous process from the moment of delivery:


QA Processes To Ensure Product Safety

1. Visual inspection of containers and trailers for obvious signs of damage, dirt, or infestation. The shipment is rejected if any are found.

2. Internal inspection looking for off odors, signs of adulteration, metals or contamination. The shipment is rejected if any are found.

3. Samples are pulled for pathogen lab testing. If samples test positive, the shipment is pasteurized using steam treatment. The shipment is re-test it before it’s released for distribution. If re-tested shipments still test positive, we destroy the shipment.


OSI does not use any synthetic stabilizers, radiation, chemicals, or high temperatures that can destroy plant matter. OSI follows strict organic principles and routinely exceed the most demanding legal and ethical expectations. 



Insect Presence in Organic Food Production


Insect Presence in Organic Food Production

The soil our food is grown in plays a large part in the health of the plants we eat and contains essential nutrients the body cannot make. Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, chemicals, and bioengineering are designed to kill the pests and weeds that invade agriculture, however they often destroy much more than that.

Only a small percentage of insects are harmful to humans, however even beneficial insects pose a problem to growers. Leaves that have been chewed or damaged are unappetizing to consumers, and insects need to be removed during harvesting. In the case of organic foods, the challenge is even greater because the use of chemicals is prohibited.

Organic growers rely on managing insects rather than eliminating them. This involves using a range of techniques and an approach that is fully compliant with Certified Organic Standards and the USDA’s National Organic Program. According to North Carolina State University’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, success depends on learning the following information about invasive insects.

What does the insect need to survive? Growers can use biological information to determine what the insect needs and alter the  environment in some way to deter the insect from living there.

How does the insect interact with the environment? Growers can use ecological information to determine how insects interact with their environment and create a pest resistant habitat.

How does the insect behave? Growers can use information about an insect’s behavior and create a management program to create a hostile environment.

Insects in organic food should not be seen in a negative light; they are a sign of a healthy soil ecosystem. However, organic standards don’t allow for insects in the end product and growers must employ a variety of management practices to control or eliminate crop pests, such as:

  • Pheromones that attract and trap pests or disrupt their reproduction

  • Insect pathogens or microbial control

  • Providing habitats for species that eat live pests

  • Natural insecticides, soaps, and botanicals

  • Crop rotation and spacing

  • Trap crops that attract insects away from cash crops

  • Timely harvesting

Organic farming creates soil with more organic matter and microscopic life increases leading to an increase in insect predators. Entomologists generally agree that monocultures foster more pest problems, so integrating a variety of crops is another way to control pest population.



source: North Carolina State University Center for Environmental Farming Systems



What Are Anti-Caking Agents?


What Are Anti-Caking Agents?

 Anti-caking agents are a type of food additive. Most famously depicted through Morton Salt’s “When It Rains It Pours” Campaigns that began as early as 1914, anti-caking agents were developed to keep ingredients from clumping together after being packaged.

Since most product caking comes from moisture, anti-caking agents either act to absorb moisture or act as a sealant and repel water and oil. Like most other food additives and preservatives, the majority come from sources that are hard for human bodies to break down over time. There are some natural ways to keep moisture out of your products as well, like introducing grains such as rice that will absorb moisture.

Here are a list of common anti-caking agents:

● Sodium aluminosilicate - a man-made product

● Sodium ferrocyanide

● Potassium ferrocyanide

● Calcium carbonate

● Magnesium carbonate

● Calcium silicate

● Silicon dioxide - the principle constituent of sandstone

● Hydrophobic silica

● Calcium phosphate/tri-calcium phosphate - bone ash

These are all industry standard ingredients and by law, companies are not required to include them in their labeling.

There are several reasons why OSI refuses to add food additives like anti-caking agents, the main concern being integrity of product. Adding any ingredients to our spices would compromise the flavor, quality and our commitment to product sourcing. The addition of anti-caking agents to powdered organic herbs and spices means you’re not getting a 100% pure product.

OSI is 100% Certified Organic. That means no fillers, no additives, no dyes, no fragrance enhancers, and no anti-caking agents. OSI follows strict organic principles and routinely exceed the most demanding legal and ethical expectations.


Forecasted Growth of the Organics Market


Forecasted Growth of the Organics Market

Promotion of natural and organic products by retailers has put greater awareness in front of consumers. Many large conventional retailers have already developed organic programs and have added organic lines into their inventory, and restaurants, cafeterias, and food service providers are all incorporating organic foods into their menus, including Yale and UC Berkeley.


According to the Food Marketing Institute, growing concerns by consumers about conglomerate agribusiness, chemical warfare against pests, and the balance of delicate ecosystems have been the main drivers behind the demand for organics, and has caused this once small market to increase substantially since 1999.  

Today, sixty percent of people believe organic foods are better for health, and their appeal extends to environmentalists, conservationists, and those opposed to bioengineered foods. On a subjective level, many people, including chefs, believe that organic food tastes better.

In 2003, organic foods and beverages held 46 percent of all U.S. retail food and beverage sales, increasing to 50 percent in 2007, with conventional food, drug, and mass merchandisers accounting for more than 75 percent of sales.

As demand rises, organics will continue to take a growing share of the sector. The United States Organic Food Market Forecast and Opportunities for 2018 predicts that the organic food market in the United States will grow at the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of another 14% during 2014-18 as consumers who purchase organics, 59 percent of whom are loyal, continue to follow emerging trends.

For retailers, sales strategies include in-store advertising, cooking demonstrations, and educating on-site store employees, carrying targeted categories such as salads rather than a few scattered products, pre-packed vegetables, and promotional pricing.


Consumers who purchase organic foods are concerned with freshness over appearance. Retailers are willing to be flexible regarding the whims of Mother Nature, seasonal supplies, and the size of supply chain operations.  

Here are some notable changes occurring in the U.S. organic food sector.

  • Organic food has penetrated the mass-market channel
  • Organic foods are no longer being sold exclusively in natural product stores.
  • Social and environmental awareness among consumers is increasing.
  • Consumers are willing to pay a price premium to support sustainable organic farming.
  • Widening distribution channels are contributing towards market growth.


According to a new market report by Transparency Market Research, the demand for organic food and beverages was valued at USD 70.70 billion in 2012 is expected to reach USD 187.85 billion by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 15.5% from 2013 to 2019.

Globally, organic farming is practiced in 162 countries, and organic foods account for 80.6% share of the overall demand. France, Europe’s largest agricultural producer, is boosting research and training in organic growing techniques, and has seen an increase of 6.6 percent in sales of organic food since 2012. (May 31, Reuters)

Organic coffee, tea, and other non-dairy beverages were the market leaders in organic beverages. Organic coffee and tea accounted for 39.8% of the total beverage revenue share in 2012.

Rising awareness among consumers regarding the health benefits of nutraceuticals are driving the global market. Nutriceuticals in teas and spices in particular are among the leaders in medicinal food products because they are known to support immune function and improve health. These are outpacing traditional markets, with the U.S. being the largest market, expected to have a 21 percent growth by 2015.


The Organic Trade Association (OTA), the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America, found these statistics.

  • According to a study done in 2010 by the Hartman Group, one-third of U.S. consumers polled purchase organic products monthly. This is up 11 percent since 2000.
  • 2009 U.S. Families' Organic Attitudes and Belief Study shows that 31 percent of families are buying more organic products than they did the year before, with their largest increase in spending being on organic food.
  • More than 35 percent of survey respondents said they would pay more for environmentally friendly products.
  • 48 percent are buying as much or more organic food than before the economic downturn.
  • According to Consumers Union, 66 percent of organic food consumers are concerned about genetically engineered seeds tainting their organic food.
  • A survey by Mambo Sprouts Marketing showed that consumers are going back to basics to bolster their health. 84 percent take vitamins, and 68 percent choose organic foods.


Anyone who’s on the fence about organics should know that the current national and worldwide indicators point to spiraling growth over the next five years as consumers continue to look for better solutions to disease prevention and ways to improve their overall health and well being.




  1. FDA FoodMarketing Institute
  2. Natural Marketing Institute - 2004 Health and Wellness Trends Report.
  3. Consumer preferences for emerging trends in organics: product origin and scale of supply chain operations
  4. France aims to double organic farmland by 2017
  5. Beyond Organic and Natural: Resolving Confusion in Marketing Foods and Beverages
  6. Organic Trade Association: 2009 US Familie's Organic Attitudes & Beliefs Study