Food fraud: Is that really oregano? Is it? Is it?

Herbs are about the only thing I can grow that aren’t eaten by birds, possums and skinks.

oreganoExcept when the cats decide to self-bathe in the wonderful aroma of my herbs, when someone lets them out onto the piece of concrete substituting for a back yard.

Seven of the 12 dried oregano samples sampled by Choice Australia contained other ingredients, including olive and sumac leaves.

Last year a study reported that 25% of dried oregano samples in the UK were adulterated. Concerned that Australian consumers might be affected by the same issue, CHOICE decided to carry out a spot check on the authenticity of oregano being sold here. We bought a selection of dried oregano products from supermarkets, grocers and delis in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth – 12 different brands in total – and had a single sample of each product analysed.

Shockingly, the results of a unique screening test for oregano adulteration showed that of the 12 samples, only five were 100% oregano. The other seven – from brands Master of Spices, Hoyt’s, Stonemill (Aldi), Spice & Co, Menora, Spencers and G Fresh – contained ingredients other than oregano, including olive leaves (in all seven samples) and sumac leaves (in two samples). Ingredients other than oregano made up between 50% and 90% of the adulterated samples.

It’s important to note that we tested just one sample of a single batch from each brand, so the results aren’t necessarily representative of each of those individual brands and companies’ whole range of oregano products.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time