Is spicy food harmful for our health? - "Dried spices are not without risks: a proposed FDA risk assessment identifies contamination problems."
At the annual meeting of LPAI (International Association for Food Protection) in 2007 in Florida, Robert Tauxe, head of outbreaks of foodborne illness at the CDC, told the audience of a symposium that the next big problem for food safety was low moisture ingredients. Salmonella is robust, especially when the bacterium is under stress by drying, so it sticks around for a while. It can not grow without much water available, but many low-moisture foods are also high in fat that protects the pathogen in the intestine and leads to a lower average infective dose. Tauxe of the comments were made after the Peter Pan peanut butter was contaminated with Salmonella Tennessee and before the presence of Salmonella Wandsworth in a brand Veggie Booty snack product (and other epidemics) and spoke dried herbs and spices and dough-type products like peanut hummus and tahini.
FDA evaluated the risks associated with dried spices and published October 30, 2013 a "Risk Profile: Pathogen and Spices in Filth" or pathogenic risk profile of the project (like Salmonella) and blemishes (such as insect parts ).
The risk profile identifies the most frequent microbiological hazards and filth in spices and quantify, where possible, the prevalence and levels of these contaminants at various points in the food chain.
The study identified 14 spices / seasonings outbreaks associated worldwide that occurred from 1973 to 2010, which resulted in fewer than 2 000 reported cases of human illnesses and 128 hospitalizations worldwide.
The relatively low number of identified outbreaks may be due in part to the implementation of preventive controls the spice processing industry and food, including pathogen reduction treatments and cooking when preparing foods. People tend to consume small amounts of spices with the meal, which usually reduces the probability of illness from contaminated spices over contaminated food consumed in larger quantities.
The New York Times, the draft report highlights a variety of issues that are facing the industry dried spices.
The findings of the agency "are a wake up call" for the spice growers said Jane Van Doren, a responsible food and spices to the FDA. "It means, 'Hey, you have not solved the problems.' '
The agency called the contamination of spices "a systemic challenge" and said that most insects found in spices were the types who thrive in warehouses and other storage facilities, suggesting that the problems the industry is not the result of poor harvesting practices, but of poor storage and processing.
John Hallagan, a spokesman for the American Spice Trade Association, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report, and so could not comment. But the spice manufacturers stated in the past that food manufacturers often treat spices imported prior to marketing, so that the conclusions of the FDA on contamination levels in its products imported screening program does not mean the spices sold to consumers are dangerous.
According CIDRAP News October 31, 2013, 12% of spices imported into the United States would be contaminated, mainly with Salmonella.
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