UPDATED: The FDA says your spices may be laced with salmonella and mouse poo

UPDATED: The FDA says your spices may be laced with salmonella and mouse poo

(Image: Sara Marlowe) (Image: Sara Marlowe)
 

Some troubling news for pretty much anyone who eats food: according to a recent report from the American Food and Drug Administration, 12 per cent of herbs and spices imported into the U.S. contain a little something extra. Like bird shit. Or cat hair. Or stones, twigs, staples, wood slivers, rubber bands and “live and dead whole insects and insect parts.” All of the former were found in disturbingly high quantities in almost 3,000 imported shipments examined by the FDA from 2007 to 2009. Along with insect limbs and random trash, the agency also found a shockingly high incidence of molecular pathogens, including salmonella (found in 7 per cent of samples) and staphylococcus aureus (i.e. the same contaminant that found its way into a vat of maple-bacon jam at this year’s CNE). Although the stomach-turning report deals specifically with U.S. shipments, Canada, too, imports a significant portion of its spice supply from abroad. Ick. [Washington Post]

UPDATE: Canada’s spice imports may in fact be less filthy than those imported into the U.S. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, out of 1,434 dried spice samples tested for “various allergens, chemical residues and microbiology concerns” between 2009 to 2013, only two samples tested positive for salmonella (i.e. approximately 0.1 percent, which is far lower than the 7 per cent contamination rate of U.S.-bound spices). The testing program apparently did not focus on contamination from bugs and other random filth; however, a CFIA spokesperson assured reporters from the Toronto Star that “food safety is a top priority of the government of Canada” and “[i]t is illegal for anyone to sell unsafe food in Canada.” We feel relieved. Sort of. [Toronto Star]