In an effort to curb the number of foodborne illness outbreaks in America, the Food and Drug Administration is taking a harder look at packaged spices that are typically found on grocery store shelves. The government agency has announced it is analyzing a recently completed two-year, nationwide study to collect data on the presence of Salmonella in retail packages.
The FDA has introduced new rules, as part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, to "establish preventative controls in the food supply chain." Through a "risk profile," the agency determined the presence of pathogens, such as Salmonella, and filth in spices is "a systemic challenge," and the problem relates in part to poor or inconsistent use of appropriate controls to prevent contamination. Once full analysis of the study has been completed, the FDA will post the results online.
Right now, the agency isn't recommending consumers make any changes to their consumption or use of packaged spices. One reason for the decision is that many spices are often used in cooking, as opposed to at the table, and high termperatures can reduce pathogen contamination.
News from the FDA comes a couple of weeks following a similar announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture in regard to poultry standards. The USDA hopes to achieve at least a 30 percent reduction in illnesses from Salmonella and at least a 32 percent reduction from Campylobacter.