The great oregano swindle

Thursday, 07 April, 2016

A spot check by CHOICE has found widespread adulteration of oregano products sold in Australia, with one product found to contain less than 10% oregano.

Following a food fraud study in the UK in 2015, which found 25% of dried oregano products were adulterated, CHOICE commissioned testing in Australia. Of the 12 brands analysed, only five were 100% oregano. The worst offender in the spot check was Master of Spices (less than 10%), followed by Hoyt’s (11%), Aldi’s Stonemill (26%), Spice & Co (35%) Menora (36%), Spencers (40%) and G Fresh (50%).

“Dried oregano is a fixture in most kitchens across the country, but many consumers will be surprised to learn they may be getting less than they bargained for with this popular herb,” said CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

CHOICE’s examination found the seven adulterated samples contained varying percentages of olive leaves and sumac leaves, which are used to bulk out the products.

“There is clearly a major problem in the oregano supply chain in Australia, which also raises the question about other herbs and spices entering the Australian market,” said Godfrey.

The dried oregano products were purchased from supermarkets, grocers and delis in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and a single sample of each brand was analysed.

Products from MasterFoods, Woolworths Select, Coles, McCormick and Herbies Spices were found to contain 100% oregano leaves.

CHOICE has referred its findings to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

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