FDA Report Highlights Rampant Contamination Of Imported Spices

Posted on November 1, 2013

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration came out with a report that cast a spotlight on the state of safety in the imported spice industry.  A new article from the New York Times takes a look at the FDA’s findings, which relate how 12% of imported spices are contaminated with items that could pose a threat to public health.

That contamination involves such things as rodent hair and pieces of insects.  Among the whole and partial insects found contaminating spice products, most were from bugs that can typically be found in warehouse facilities.

It wasn’t just animal parts that were to blame, though, as Salmonella was also shown to be present in 7% of the imports analyzed by inspectors.  Although 1.2 million people are thought to be stricken with a Salmonella-based illness in a given year, the FDA said it’s hard to identify how often spices are the culprit.  This is because of the small quantities of spices most people eat and the failure of citizens to remember that they applied a spice to their food.

India and Mexico fared the worst in terms of contaminated exports, which is problematic given that around 25% of the food coloring, oil, and spices shipped to the United States come from India.

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