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Imported Spices a Surprising Source of Salmonella Poisonings — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 29, 2013

Imported Spices a Surprising Source of Salmonella Poisonings

By Kelly Young

Imported spices are frequently contaminated with salmonella, the New York Times reports.

The Times references a soon-to-be-released FDA analysis of 20,000 food shipments. The FDA found nearly 7% of spice lots had salmonella contamination. Other imported foods have about half that rate.

High contamination levels were found in shipments of coriander, oregano, basil, sesame seeds, curry powder, and cumin. Spices from Mexico and India had the highest rates of contamination, 14% and 9%, respectively. While bacteria living on spices can be killed by the high heat of cooking, contamination of table spices, like black pepper, is more problematic.

DNA sequencing of salmonella types has led the FDA to trace recent outbreaks to imported spices.

Reader Comments (2)

Manuel Moraleda Physician, Pathology

Bacterial contamination can easily be solved with gamma irradiation. Isn't this being done ?

Jim Carroll BSN Other Healthcare Professional, Anesthesiology, Hospital

Would not pathogenic bacterial counts in processed foodstuffs be markedly decreased by irradiation? Why is this not done?

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