Spices

Swell. So now we can’t even count on the food we cook ourselves:

The Food and Drug Administration is reexamining the safety of a culinary staple found in every restaurant, food manufacturing plant and home kitchen pantry: spices.

In the middle of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness linked to black and red pepper — and after 16 U.S. recalls since 2001 of tainted spices — federal regulators met last week with the spice industry to figure out ways to make the supply safer.

Jeff Farrar, the FDA’s associate commissioner for food safety, said the government wants the spice industry to do more to prevent contamination. That would include using one of three methods to rid spices of bacteria: irradiation, steam heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide, a pesticide.

“The bottom line is, if there are readily available validated processes out there to reduce the risk of contamination, our expectation is that they will use them,” Farrar said. But the FDA cannot currently require it.

2 thoughts on “Spices

  1. Don’t delude yourself, Susie; spices have been a problem for quite some time now. article on fake/natural vanilla

    One highlight: “French food industry ten times as many vanilla pods as it actually imports to account for all the `natural’ vanilla that companies claim is in milk products alone.”

    And another (summarizing): fake `natural’ vanilla had mildly radioactive carbon-14 isotope added to simulate the activity present in true natural vanilla.

    Spices are a high-value commodity, and always have been; the incentive to cheat is enormous.

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