European Black Pepper Quality Standard

European Spice Association, ESA, is a non-profit association represents the interests of its members in all matters pertaining to the processing, packing, quality assurance and food safety and/or marketing of herbs, spices and spice products.

The European Spice Association, ESA, is the umbrella organisation of the European spice industry. Members of ESA are the national federations of the spice industry in the member countries of the European Union, Switzerland and Turkey. Associated membership of ESA is also available to national or international associations or organizations representing exporters/traders at origin and processors, packers/traders or associations from European countries (other than the European Union) that are able to satisfy the membership requirement.

Companies within the European Union (EU), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Turkey with a major involvement in the processing, packing and/or marketing of herbs and spice products may apply for direct membership of ESA.

European black pepper association logo
European black pepper association logo

Purpose of the European Black Pepper Quality Standard

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 minima document.

To achieve this objective ESA supports the principles of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). 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.

The harvest, cultivation, transport 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.


4.1. Extraneous matter:

All matter from the specific plant other than the desired part. Investigations by visual checks, not microscopic.

4.2. Foreign matter:

All matter that is foreign to the plant. Foreign matter can be hazardous or nonhazardous.

Hazardous material includes other foreign vegetable matter with allergenic or toxic properties, sharp objects in addition to glass, metal, stones, wood etc.

4.3. Traces:

Low levels of volatiles (in general < 0.5 %) for which analytical quantification by using ISO 6571 is not accurate and reliable. The sensorial flavouring properties should be agreed between buyer and seller.

4.4. Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) in the Use of Pesticides (Codex Alimentarius Definition):

“GAP” includes the nationally authorised safe uses of pesticides under actual 5 conditions necessary for effective and reliable pest control. It encompasses a range of levels of pesticide applications up to the highest authorised use, applied in a manner, which leaves a residue, which is the smallest amount practicable.

Authorised 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 ectoparasites and pests in public health. Residues should be the smallest amount practicable, legal limits must not be exceeded.

4.5. Traceability:

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. (see Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, page 4 of this document).

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 customer.


You want to find out more about European Black Pepper Quality Standard, Click here