When Foods that are Dietary Supplements are Recalled: Turmeric

Topics: Aging and Costs of Aging, Environmental Health, Food Benefits, Lab Tests, Vitamins and Supplements, Wellness and Health
Curry Powder (with Turmeric)

The reports this past week that hundreds of thousands of pounds of turmeric, the dried, potent powder of the rhizome which helps curry powder turn yellow, and helps prediabetics from becoming diabetics, had been recalled because of lead contamination, made me think about lead poisoning. It’s a serious illness. Lead can be stored in bones, can affect brain development and balance, can cause anemia and can be quiescent while poisoning is being developed.

Just so you know, the brands of curry powder recalled, according to consumerist.com, are from Oriental Packing Company, which sells curry powder under the brand names Blue Mountain, Jamaica Choice, Ocho Rios, Oriental, and Grace.  The problem reportedly is in the plant in India where the product was packed.

The FDA named the distributor, Gel Spice, and recalled turmeric from these retailers.

Spice Select: 8 ounces, best before code 03/18/19
Market Pantry (Target): 0.95 ounces, best before code 05APR2019
Gel: 15 ounces, best before codes 04/18/19 and 05/16/19
Clear Value: 0.75 ounces, best before code 04/27/19
Lieber’s: 2 ounces, best before code 05/13/19
Spice Supreme: 2 ounces, best before code 05/17/19

Gel Spice and Oriental Packing Company and a third distributor, JM Exotic, have had recent turmeric recalls, in addition to this one, as well.

Turmeric powder is sold by weight. Lead oxide is yellow, like turmeric, and can be added to increase weight.  It is cheaper than turmeric, which is easy to grow, in well drained topical soils and climates, and is a beautiful plant, resembling ginger, which of course is also harvested for its rhizome.

It is also possible that the Indian soil was contaminated, but whatever the case, if you have the previously mentioned curry powders or turmeric powders on your shelf, you should discard them so as to avoid the potential for lead poisoning.

Here are better, organic curry and turmeric powder choices:

Simply Organic Turmeric Root Ground Certified Organic 

Simply Organic Curry Powder Certified Organic

Organic spices, by definition, cannot have anything synthetic or contaminating added to them or be irradiated or be grown with synthetic artificial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers.

Simply Organic’s products are not imported, but are grown in the United States; they are both QAI Certified Organic and Kosher KSA Certified.

The typical lead blood level for U.S. adults is less than 10 µg/dL (mean = 3 µg/dL). If it is more than that the initial treatment is to discontinue exposure.  But between 10 and 25 µg/dL, lead is building up in the body, and between 25 and 40 µg/dL, there are potential physiologic problems. Between 40 and 80 µg/dL, serious health damage may occur, even if you have no symptoms. Over 80 µg/dL, serious, permanent health damage may occur.

Signs of repeated lead exposure are general, and poisoning is difficult to diagnose, as lead poisoning is fortunately less common than 50 years ago, when gasoline and house paint, to select just two, contained lead.  Symptoms can include: abdominal pain, cramps, aggressive behavior, constipation, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, and loss of developmental skills in children.

Bottom line: buy organic when you are uncertain!