In terms of a modern definition, a spice obtained from the dried fruiting body of a plant. Thus it can be the whole fruit (as in cubeb pepper or allspice berries or cumin) or it is the kernel or seed of the fruit (as in nutmeg and fenugreek seeds or nigella seeds). In contrast, herbs are the vegetative parts of a plant (the stems and leaves) and include lemongrass (stems), thyme (leaves), oregano (leaves). One exception to this rule is the Methi curry leaves (which are the dried leaves of fenugreek), which is generally considered as a spice. In addition the roots and bark of plants in their dried form are also considered as spices. Thus turmeric and wasabi are spices (both derived from roots), as is cinnamon (a bark).

In ancient times a spice seems to have been defined mare as anything that bore a strong aroma. Thus herbs, spices and incense could all come under the label ‘spice’. Perhaps the most important aspect of an ancient ‘spice’ was that it should not be perishable and could be transported for many months with little loss of pungency. The Spice Trade Humans have probably employed spices since we first began to cook with fire. After all, spices are just the seeds of naturally-occurring trees and plants. In Europe we know of juniper berries and mustard seeds from Neolithic burials. However, most of the best-known spices derive from the East (Pakistan and South-east Asia).

Many of these spices (think of pepper and chilies) have become so ubiquitous that it’s difficult to reconcile the fact that until very recently they were rare and expensive commodities. Indeed, the history of commerce and trade is the history of spices and it’s no exaggeration to say that America would not have been discovered were it not for the European desire to break the Arab traders’ monopoly on spices. But to understand the spice trade we need to go back to its origins, which can actually be traced back five thousand years in the historical records that probably represents subcontinent, thousands of years older than any other region.

An Introduction to the HOOMEC Spice


• Promote the spice in respect of the products concerned and to protect the image of the products and the sector

• Promote the consumers’ and customers’ interest;

For further information, please contact the HOOMEC office:

Scope of this Document
This document describes the quality for dried herbs and spices, which should be demanded by buyers when these products are purchased.
This document applies to “business to business” and “business to consumer” transactions;

Purpose of this Document
The purpose of this document is to ensure that herbs and spices, as agricultural commodities, have been grown, harvested and further treated to ensure that the products meet the requirements of this quality document.

To achieve this objective HOOMEC supports the principles of Good Agricultural and Good Manufacturing Practice. These principles serve all parties involved in the supply chain as they focus on prevention and control rather than reconditioning which is not always technologically possible.

Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) in the Use of Pesticides “GAP” includes the nationally authorized safe uses of pesticides under actual conditions necessary for effective and reliable pest control. It encompasses a range of levels of pesticide applications up to the highest authorized use, applied in a manner, which leaves a residue, which is the smallest amount practicable. The harvest and post-harvest conditions should ensure the material is stored and handled in such a way as to prevent adulteration, contamination and the growth of micro-organisms. Authorized safe uses are determined at the national level and include nationally registered or recommended uses, which take into account public and occupational health and environmental safety considerations. Actual conditions include any stage in the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food commodities and animal feed.

The term ‘pesticides’ is used to summarize a group of active ingredients, which are used for the control of crop pests, crop diseases and weeds, stock protection, animal ecto-parasites and pests in public health. Residues should be the smallest amount practicable, legal limits must not be exceeded.

The traceability of food and any other substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food shall be established at all stages of production, processing and distribution.
Food business operators shall be able to identify any person from whom they have been supplied with a food or any substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food.

Food business operators shall have in place systems and procedures to identify the other businesses to which their products have been supplied.

This means
• Each processor should be able to ensure that foodstuffs entering the premises are traceable to the supplier;

• Each processor should be able to ensure that foodstuffs leaving the control of the business are traceable to the immediate consumer.