Spices are contaminated by nature with microorganisms. The processing industry, however, requires 'clean' spices. The most applied technique has been fumigation with ethylene oxide. However, fumigation causes a number of difficulties; viz. the presence of residues and the possible forming of toxic compounds like ethylene chlorohydrine. The latest method is the decontamination by means of ionizing rays. Research on the effect of irradiation and packaging on the different quality aspects of spices proves that an irradiation dose of 3-8 kGy produces the same or better results with regard to decontamination effect as a fumigation treatment does. The applied dose has no adverse effect on the sensoric and chemical properties of the product. With respect to the wholesomeness, the irradiation process can be applied safely. Furthermore, this process offers the possibility to choose an optimal packaging for spices, thus preventing quality deterioration. 22 references, 8 tables.