Baltimore Companies Say They Clean the Insect Parts and Animal Hair out of Their Spices

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Recently, the FDA released a report stating that “almost 7 percent of imported spices inspected over a three-year period were contaminated with salmonella” and 12 percent contained “insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things.”

Other things?!

Two of Maryland’s spice makers, Vanns Spices and McCormick & Co. Inc., have defended themselves against those statistics. They tacitly acknowledge that insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs, and even “other things” are an unavoidable part of the spice game, but they say they inspect, clean, and pasteurize their products to make them fit for consumption.

The American Spice Trade Association is actually playing off the FDA’s findings as a win: “The FDA identified three food-borne illness outbreaks attributed to spices in the U.S. in the 37-year period from 1973 to 2010. This is in contrast to hundreds of such incidents during the same period attributed to leafy green vegetables, cantaloupes and other fresh produce.”

They may have a point, but as a consumer I sure wish I could be confident that my Old Bay has never come into contact with “other things.”


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