12/20/2014

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Consumer

Turmeric recall is latest spice contamination scare

Turmeric recall is latest spice contamination scare
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Authorities are warning consumers to check their spice cabinets. Lead contamination has forced a recall of Pran brand turmeric, imported from Bangladesh.

Groceries are also pulling the contaminated product from their shelves, and the Food and Drug Administration says no one should eat it. You can return it to the store for a refund.

In the wake of the recall, the FDA is considering ways to update rules on imported spices and herbs, after finding and rejecting 19 contaminated shipments in September alone. Federal inspectors say one-third of those were contaminated with salmonella.

When tainted spices are found, they are dumped. Some importers say they then pour bleach over it just be sure it's not eaten by anyone.

A few years ago, pepper from Mexico killed 87 people. And in an unrelated case, pepper from Vietnam used on salami made about 300 Americans sick.

Experts say about 90 percent of all spices we eat in this country are imported.

In one investigation, scientists found the highest concentrations of salmonella from all sources in coriander, oregano, basil and sesame seed.

Earlier this year, inspectors also found lead in dried fruit from Mexico. Lead can accumulate in the body over time, and too much can cause health problems, including delayed mental and physical development and learning deficiencies. Pregnant women, infants and young children especially should avoid exposure to lead.

Even if you don't cook with spice, you likely are still eating imported spices. Chips and other pre-packaged foods, even when made in America, may use paprika or other spices imported from other countries. It's not a requirement that ingredients be identified by country of origin on the label.

The current recall covers Pran turmeric powder, 400 grams, packaged in a transparent plastic, flexible bag. The label says "Best Before 25 Jan" and the  barcode is 831730005023.

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More information is available at www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm371206.htm.
 

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