Assessment of heavy metals and their human health risks in selected spices from South Africa

O. M. Oladeji*, O. A. Aasa, O. A. Adelusi, L. L. Mugivhisa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The concerns of food safety are rising in developing countries such as South Africa as a result of heavy metal contamination of culinary herbs and spices. Spices and herbs are used for therapeutic purposes as well as flavoring and coloring food. Heavy metals in spices represent significant health risks due to their high toxicity in high quantities. A total of 20 spices samples were purchased from different registered shops, for heavy metals analysis. The samples were prepared, digested, and analyzed with an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). To ensure the method's accuracy, Polish Certified Reference Mixed Polish Herbs (INCT-MPH-2) from the Food and Drugs Control Center, Poland, was analyzed. The concentrations of Fe (32.22 ± 1.22–131.1 ± 3.26 mg/kg), As (ND to 0.12 ± 0.04 mg/kg), Cr (0.08 ± 0.01–3.2 ± 0.09 mg/kg), Pb (N.D - 0.21 ± 0.02 mg/kg) and Cd (ND to 0.14 ± 0.08 mg/kg) mg/kg were measured. The results revealed that the concentrations of Cr in all spice samples tested were much higher than the Maximum permissible limit (MPL) values. All spices in this study had THQ and HI values less than one, indicating that consumers will experience no potential health hazards from consuming specific metals through spices. However, continual scrutiny should be maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-220
Number of pages5
JournalToxicology Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Health risks
  • Heavy metals
  • ICP-MS
  • Microwave digestion
  • Spices


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessment of heavy metals and their human health risks in selected spices from South Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this