What are herbs and spices and oleoresins?

It is not easy to give a clear definition of herbs and spices, However, the trade definitions are:


Oleoresins are pure extractives of a spice or herb. They are concentrated natural liquid flavourings that contain both volatile and non-volatile flavour components. Oleoresins have a somewhat different flavour profile from essential oils and provide flavour profiles characteristic of the ground spice or herb with a more rapid flavour release.

Herbs and spices are used primarily as food ingredients in order to provide flavour, colour and enhanced visual appearance but they are also used in medicine and perfumery.

Oleoresins provide flavour profiles of the ground spice or herb with a more rapid flavour release.

Oleoresins represent a method of obtaining a spice-like flavour profile in a concentrated, oil-soluble, liquid form. They typically contain five important components: essential oil, non-volatile characterising substances, fats waxes and pigments.

Herbs and Spices

Culinary herbs and spices are edible parts of the plants which are traditionally added to foodstuffs for their natural flavouring, aromatic and visual properties.

For more detail see ESA List of Culinary Herbs and Spices.

Herbs and Spice Blends[1]

These mixtures only contain herbs and spices and, if necessary, permitted anti-caking agents.


A seasoning is a blend of permitted food ingredients added as necessary to achieve the purpose for which it is designed, that is, to improve the taste, eating quality and/or functionality of a food. It typically contains one or more herbs and/or spices and other flavour-enhancing or flavour-emparting ingredients.


[1] The terms blend, mix and mixture are interchangeable.

[2]The Seasoning category includes seasonings with functional properties, for example, thickening, emulsifying, preserving, tenderising, colouring.

Last reviewed: 03 Feb 2014