For many years, spices and dried aromatic herbs were believed to be at low risk for bacterial contamination. This is because bacteria cannot survive and grow without water, and spices and dried aromatic herbs contain very little water – in other words, they are a low-moisture food.5

But in recent years, spice-associated outbreaks of foodborne illness have been reported with increasing frequency.2

A recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) identified 28 outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with consumption of contaminated spices or dried aromatic herbs.1

Most illnesses are caused by:

Salmonella spp              77%

Bacillus cereus              20%

Clostridium perfringens 3%

(FAO/WHO, 2014)

While the complex supply chain for spices and dried aromatic herbs makes it difficult to identify specific points at which contamination occurs, microbial contamination of spices and dried aromatic herbs can occur at any time during farm production: growing, harvesting, drying, or packing.1

This manual is designed for use to educate farm workers about food safety and proper hygiene practices throughout farm production of spices and aromatic herbs to help prevent bacterial and chemical (mold toxin) contamination that can cause foodborne illness.

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Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 5:14 PM