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Spices can carry salmonella

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Like spices? I sure do…

From NPR (and The New York Times):

Spice may be nice, but spices also can carry very bad bugs. About 7 percent of spices tested by Food and Drug Administration researchers were contaminated with salmonella, which can cause serious illness and death. Because of this finding and others, the FDA and international food safety organizations are putting more effort into how to reduce the risk.

A New York Times article this week really brought the issue to everyone’s attention. Here are some of the questions we’ve been asking about spices and salmonella here at The Salt…

The article goes on to ask the following questions:

  • How much of the spices on grocery shelves are contaminated?
  • How do spices get contaminated?
  • How much would a person have to consume to get sick?
  • Does cooking with spices eliminate the danger?
  • Do we have a sense of how many foodborne illnesses in the United States are caused by spices?
  • How can spices be made safer?

The answers aren’t very heartening. The upshot is that 7% of a sampling of 20,000 spices were contaminated and that it wouldn’t take much to make a person sick. Spices at greatest risk for contamination include:

…coriander, basil, oregano, sesame seeds, pepper, cumin and curry powder. Ground and cracked spices were slightly more likely to be contaminated than whole spices.

For more on this, check out the original article here: NPR.

More stories about food.

Photo credit: mgp – Fotolia.com

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