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The FDA Just Found Widespread Salmonella Contamination in Spices

A spice market in Istanbul / heydrienne
A spice market in Istanbul / heydrienne

What’s in your spice cabinet right now? Some paprika, turmeric, and a little bit of cardamom, perhaps? How about salmonella?


The FDA first started looking into the issue of salmonella in your spice cabinet back in 2013. After two years and more than 7,000 spice batches tested, the agency reported on Friday that spices are more than twice (6.6 percent) as likely as any other imported food to be contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella wasn’t the only problem either—twice as common as salmonella (12 percent) were spices testing positive for miscellaneous “filth,” a category that includes everything from insects to animal hair.

The most troubling part of the FDA study results? The problem wasn’t pinned to any specific region or any particular spice. Of the 79 countries that were included, just under half—37 of them—had a salmonella problem, and that problem was widespread. Basil, black pepper, oregano, paprika, red pepper (capsicum), coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, sesame seed, and white pepper were all sources of salmonella.


In its report, the FDA says you can mostly keep uses spices as you always do—particularly because most spices get cooked before they’re eaten. Instead of changing things up in the kitchen, the FDA is going to tighten up monitoring on the spice manufacturers.

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Hmm. Should I be worried about letting my pork shoulder repose in a dry rub overnight in the fridge? If there is salmonella in my spices, how long does it have to sit on raw meat before issues develop?