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Spices Seized from Importer


Spices have been frequently implicated in foodborne infection.  Since most products are imported from nations with less than optimal hygienic and manufacturing processes there is considerable potential for contamination.  This is significant in the context of foodborne infection since a spice contaminated with Salmonella could be widely distributed in numerous food products creating difficulty in identifying the vehicle of infection and trace-back to the source.


The vulnerability of spices to contamination is intensified if processors and packers in the U.S. fail to conform to acceptable storage, processing and packaging practices. Following an inspection by the FDA of the premises of Lyden Spice Corporation, Federal officials seized 12 tons of spices packed in bags and boxes due to unsanitary condition.  According to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the company held spices under conditions conducive to adulteration.  The inspection showed the presence of insect pests and rodent and bird droppings that could contribute to extensive foodborne infection.


Spices could be subject to ‘cold pasteurization’ using either cobalt60 irradiation in bulk or electron beam treatment for smaller batches to eliminate non-spore forming bacterial pathogens.  Although inspection and after-the-effect intervention by the FDA and local health authorities may reduce the risk of infection from spices, a positive kill step would contribute substantially to food safety.