The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a draft of its spice risk profile on Wednesday, calling attention to the most common microbial hazards and filth in spices, along with possible sources of contamination.
The agency’s testing between 2007 and 2010 revealed that 12 percent of imported spices were contaminated with insects, excrement, hair and other materials.
In addition, Salmonella was prevalent in nearly 7 percent of imported spices – a rate twice as high as all other imported food regulated by FDA.
The report identifies harvest and intermediate storage before processing as the production steps most at risk for contamination.
There were 14 spice-related outbreaks worldwide between 1973 and 2010 with fewer than 2,000 illnesses and 128 hospitalizations, FDA says.
“People’s tendency to eat small amounts of spices with meals generally lowers the probability of illness from contaminated spices relative to similarly contaminated foods consumed in larger amounts,” an FDA press release explained. “It is also possible that illnesses caused by contaminated spices are underreported, particularly because of challenges related to attribution for minor ingredients in multi-ingredient foods.”
The agency also stated that it is taking steps to strengthen spice safety through a training center focused on supply chain management for spices and botanical ingredients, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules on preventive controls for human food facilities, and foreign supplier verification programs for importers.© Food Safety News