The amount of contaminated spices found by the FDA being imported into the U.S., may have you cringe when you reach into your spice rack next time. According to USA Today on Oct. 30, the FDA reports that spices are twice as likely as any other inspected food to be contaminated with a pathogen.
More than 80 different types of salmonella have been found in spices coming into the U.S., according to the records of the FDA between 2007 and 2009. Another disturbing find by the FDA during that same time period is ground up filth and pieces of insects found in the spices.
The study was brought about after several spice-related outbreaks of illnesses globally. Black pepper and red pepper from India, China and Vietnam caused hundreds of illnesses in 2009 and 2010 when it was used in the making of salami.
During the three year period of this study, 749 shipments were refused entry into the U.S. because salmonella was detected in the product. Another 238 shipments were turned down because of “filth.” These shipments contained a variety of insects, hair, excrement or other materials.
The FDA is not advising consumers to stay away from spices, although the risk of getting sick from any contamination is greatly reduced if you add the spices to the food before the cooking process, instead of adding the spice once the food is cooked.
The FDA report suggests that better training is needed across the chain that supplies the imported spices. Many of the spices come from small farms in countries with less stringent health codes than those dictated by the U.S.
Some of these spice farms use techniques like air drying the spices outside where they are exposed to all kinds of contamination, like bird droppings.