Are You Peppering Your Salad With Freshly Ground Salmonella?
The claim: The bulk spices you buy at your local farmers' market may be contaminated with pathogens ranging from salmonella toB. cereusandstaphylococcus aureus(which can cause pneumonia, sepsis, and other deadly diseases), according to new research from Kansas State University Research and Extension.
The research:Scientists tested spices sold in bulk bins at local (Kansas city metro areas) farmers' markets for pathogens and found four out of 10 showed contamination by one or more combination of three items: bacteria, heavy metals, and mycotoxins (an indicator of fungal contamination). “Some of the spices we purchased tested positive for salmonella,” said Patrick Williams, a research assistant professor at K-State Olathe who works in bio-molecular testing. Four spices most often linked with salmonella contamination include black pepper, thyme, oregano, and turmeric.
What it means:The same antibacterial processes (ethylene oxide and steam) used to prevent contamination in packaged spices are not used in bulk spices. Buying spices in bulk, such as those sold in open-air bins at farmers' markets and health food stores does not protect you against bacteria and pathogens. Customers and children often stick their bare hands in the bins and may even remove samples and return them to the bin. “You’d have no idea,” says Williams. “Even if the spices arrive bacteria-free, as soon as they’re dumped into a dirty bin (which are likely never cleaned), they’re contaminated.” Plus, you can’t tell by simply looking or smelling a spice if it’s contaminated, he adds.
The bottom line: When in doubt, opt for packaged spices instead of their bulk counterparts, says Williams.
Video: Jamie’s Sweet Pepper Steak & Grilled Veggie Salad | Woolworths
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