Contaminated Spices Caused Previous Outbreak, FDA Report Reveals Spices Containing Fecal Matter, Insects

A shocking report from the Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers about the possibility of purchasing contaminated spices.

The FDA revealed in a report released Wednesday that showed that testing of imported spices between 2007 and 2010 revealed that spices were more than twice as likely to be contaminated as opposed to other tested food.

The report identified more than 80 different types of salmonella among the contaminants that included fecal matter, bugs and hair. The spice samples that were tested were imported from around the globe including a majority of spices form India, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.

The FDA stated that there have been 14 known outbreaks around the world since 1973 related to contaminated spices resulting in nearly 2,000 illnesses, the majority of which were children. The reason for this most recent round of testing was due to the recent contaminated spice outbreaks in 2009 and 2010. During those years, black pepper and red pepper from India, Vietnam and China used in salami caused hundreds of illnesses.

The three year study revealed that 749 shipments of spices were refused entry into the United States due to salmonella contamination, while 238 other shipments were blocked entry due to other contaminates such as insects, excrement or other materials.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, insists the agency is "not recommending that consumers stay away from spices." He added that people can reduce the chance of sickness by adding spices before food is cooked rather than adding it after it is prepared.

The deputy commissioner believes that new food safety rules that focus on screening imported food and testing domestic products goes a long way in reducing the possibly of contamination.

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