The reason I resurrected this was seeing a ground cinnamon from 5th Season products, with the ingredient listed as canela molida, a new variation for me.
Today’s rant started about food pictures, but ended up about cassia bark.
I get very irritated with graphics floating around the social media sites claiming the healing power of various herbs and spices, when the photo is incorrect.
Recently I have seen paprika labeled ground cayenne pepper, regular oregano as Greek oregano and as always, cassia bark as cinnamon. Once a particular picture gets fixed in the minds of people, the lie gets repeated so often that the truth gets lost.
When I lived in Mexico, cinnamon was considered a cure-all and I do mean all. It was taken for everything from a head cold to a broken leg, and the local markets in San Miguel de Allende had stacks of wonderful quills for a very reasonable price, but they did not have the best aromatic quality. Despite that, they were genuine, and everyone knew the difference between them and what is ubiquitously sold in the USA as cinnamon, its sometimes very toxic relative, cassia bark. In fact, 21 of the first 25 pictures of “cinnamon” if you google image search, are various kinds of cassia bark. It is so prevalent that even people selling the real stuff (Ceylon cinnamon) often end up with their product labeling including a photo of cassia.
Cinnamon toxic? Yes. At least what is usually called cinnamon in ingredient lists, and most spice bottles, as cassia contains coumarin, which is banned as a flavorant food additive due to concerns about its hepatoxicity in animal models.
In humans it is only considered moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys but it has a daily intake limit of 0.1 mg/kg of body weight and 1 teaspoon of cassia bark cinnamon powder contains 5.8 to 12.1 mg, which is above the level of acceptability for many smaller people and your children.
If you think that is OK, then you have to be aware of how many products in the grocery store actually contain not only cassia bark, but vanilla substitutes, as coumarin is used a flavoring agent in them, despite having been banned as a food additive in numerous countries since the mid-20th century.
So once again, in the interests of profit, (cassia bark is very cheap compared to Sri Lankan or Ceylon cinnamon,), something that should be good for us has been changed for something that is proven to be toxic, but allowed into the food supply by pressure from industry lobbying.
The photo shows the obvious difference between the thick, dark orange of cassia bark and the light, crumbly, multilayered cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon with the scientific names of cinnanomum velum or cinnanomum zeylanicum.