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FDA Releases Draft Risk Profile on Pathogens and Filth in Spices, Takes Steps to Strengthen Spice Safety

Thursday, November 7, 2013

(American Meat Institute)

The FDA has completed a draft risk profile on spices, done in response to recent outbreaks caused by the consumption of Salmonella-contaminated spices in the U.S. The study's findings suggest that the presence of pathogens, such as Salmonella, and filth in spices is a systemic challenge. Failures identified in the farm-to-table food safety system potentially leading to adulteration of consumed spice generally arose from poor/inconsistent application of appropriate preventive controls. The study identified 14 spice/seasoning-associated outbreaks worldwide that occurred from 1973 to 2010, resulting in less than 2,000 reported human illnesses and 128 hospitalizations worldwide, noting that the small amount may be related to current preventive controls, small amounts of spices used in food preparation and attribution challenges.

Regulatory standards and programs in place that help prevent contaminated spice from reaching consumers are also described in the risk profile. These include inspections of spice manufacturing facilities as well as new Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rules on preventive controls for human food facilities and another on foreign supplier verification programs for importers.

Comments on the draft risk profile are due January 3, 2014.  The Federal Register notice announcing the risk profile is available here.

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