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Canada Tracks Contaminated Cardamom

Green Cardamom, an herb from the ginger family native to Southeast Asia, apparently now grown in Guatemala, has turned up with Salmonella contamination in Canada.

Since the middle of last week, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has been scrambling to get its arms around the problem.   It began by warning the public not to eat Cardamom seeds on June 23 when it discovered three brands–India Bazaar, Bestway, and OK–might be contaminated.

Brampton, ON-based India Bazaar, Toronto’s Bestway Food Centre, and OK Food, Produce, and Movie Store in Calgary were thought to be the only stores selling the Salmonella-contaminated seeds.  India Bazaar and Bestway were selling Cardamom Seeds in 100-gram bags, and OK in 50-gram packages.

Two more brands were added to CFIA’s public warning on June 25–Nature’s Choice and Asian Food Products.  Nature’s Choice Cardamom was sold by various retailers in British Columbia, and Asian Food Imports was selling the seeds at its Windsor, ON location.

Going into the weekend, CFIA also released a list of ten retailer outlets in Ontario and Nova Scotia that were selling the green Cardamom out of bulk containers in both bulk amounts and packages.

In Toronto, those bulk Cardamom outlets included: Bestway, Fine India Grocers, Kohinoor Foods, India Bazaar, Mann Enterprises & Variety Store, NMK Foods Inc., Rexdale Grocers, and Somnali Halaal Food Market.

Other bulk sellers include Bhatia International Grocers in Windsor, and Fanor Mini Market in Halifax.

CFIA said distributors of the Guatemalan Cardamom recalled the product when the public warnings went out from the government.  

No illnesses have yet been associated with contaminated green Cardamom.

CFIA is monitoring the recall.   The agency reminded the public that food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled.   Eating food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a foodborne illness.

Such infections can be serious and even fatal.  Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Cardamom is typically used as a spice.  It is a common ingredient for many dishes in India.  In the MIddle East it is often used to flavor tea and coffee drinks.  In Southeast Asia, it has been used to treat everything from upset stomachs to sore teeth and gums.

Green Cardamom is sold in pods and seeds.

The earliest contaminated Cardamom may have been imported to Canada was last March.

© Food Safety News