Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, is a spice made from dried and ground sassafras leaves. It is used in the making of some types of gumbo, a Cajun soup/stew. It is sprinkled sparingly over gumbo as a seasoning and a thickening agent, giving it a distinctive flavor and texture. Filé was originally an okra substitute when okra was not in season.
Safrole, the main constituent of sassafras oil which is distilled from the bark of sassafras roots, has been shown to cause liver cancer in laboratory rats. However, sassafras leaves are free of safrole and are safe for consumption.
- ↑ McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997:152-4.