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NYTimes on contaminated spices


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#1 rotuts

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 08:08 AM

this today in the NYT:  below the fold:

 

http://www.nytimes.c...od-ills.html?hp

 

its a bit alarming.  I dont think Ive ever gotten sick from imported spices.  not that that means a lot.



#2 gfweb

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 08:54 AM

Toast your spices!



#3 rotuts

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 09:16 AM

excellent thinking.

 

 now the dried oregano ( in comes in at 12 % contaminated ) ....

 

:blink:


Edited by rotuts, 28 August 2013 - 09:17 AM.


#4 jmolinari

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 01:51 PM

spices could be easily irradiated...but i'm sure that will get people complaining that their spices are "radioactive", so let's not, and instead get sick.


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#5 rotuts

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 02:02 PM

I personally have no problem with Irradiation.  I get a Dose every day walking w/o a hat in the sun.

 

but ... I'd like not to get a GI illness  etc.

 

I get most of my spices from Penzy's etc.

 

there was another thread here that got to the point where there was some canned tomato spicy item.  it came from Mexico and that

 

was on a list that did not have good harvesting.

 

So where ever you get your herbs and spices:  ask them about this.  that's what we can do.

 

(mention eG and that a billlion people +++ review the response.   :wink:



#6 patrickamory

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 04:36 PM

So long as the spices are cooked it appears not to be a problem.

 

So the main issue is probably fresh-ground black peppercorns from India (where all of mine come from), used as a finishing spice on your food at the table. Not that I've ever contracted salmonella!



#7 annabelle

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:58 AM

There is a similar problem with herbal medicines, primarily Chinese herbal medicines which are heavily contaminated with lead.  I am sorry, but I am unable to locate the article at the moment.  I believe it may have been in Microbiology News.



#8 janeer

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 09:42 PM

Interesting; not something included in food service sanitation training, as I recall



#9 jsager01

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 09:29 AM

 
There are nasties in imported spices from India and Mexico, so what? ban their import, stop using them? well, that's one way to deal with it. Stop reading the NYT?  Have US citizens pay for increased funding to the US FDA to perform more multi year studies, and send its commissioners on trips to exotic India, etc? I would even join the FDA if they would send me on an all expenses paid trip or a 3 month assignment to India, Mexico, or any other spice producing country. 
 
In the NYT article, it states that "Science has revealed what ancient kings and sultans never knew: instead of improving health, spices sometimes make people very sick....".  How does the NYT and its 'Science'  know what the ancient kings/sultans never knew?? 
 
Maybe  the Sultans and Maharajahs never knew,  but I believe every housewife/cook/chef/peasant   in India since time immemorial, including the earlier posters on this thread, know  that you always toast your spices, or add them as a finishing touch (in the pot)  before serving, if for no other reason than to bring out the full flavor of the spices. 
 
Adding ' raw' spices at the table is, i believe, a 'western'  practice. If the NYT and FDA are really concerned about consumers and the nasties in  spices, and not about publishing a sensational attention grabing article with overtones of zenophobia, then why not just warn against such practice? Or call for a  ban of such practice?, ie do not add raw spices at the table?  In a sort of techie-speak, if you use something out of spec, then you are on your own.
 
We all know about how contaminated store bought chicken in the USofA  (or any other country) can be, and the common sensible thing to do is: do NOT eat raw chicken (or raw hamburger, etc), but cook the hell out of them, especially if you are paranoid about food safety. And non-pasteurised cheese ... ok, i am getting out of topic.
 
As for the claim of  ' herbal medicines primarily Chinese.which are heavily contaminated with lead..' , i would ask if you have ever used Chinese herbal medicine. I believe that Chinese herbal medicines are used mainly by the ' ethnic' Chinese, and therefore the question is:  has there been a significant increase in lead poisoning among the Chinese in the US, or in China, or anywhere else in the world? I am not a medical doctor, but i believe the symptoms of lead poisoning are very obvious, to a medical practitioner.
 
Bear in mind that Chinese herbal medicine has been around for several centuries, and it has not prevented China from becoming the most populous nation in the world, with a life expectancy that is ' respectable'   since i cannot be bothered to google for the exact figures. And bear in mind that Chinese herbal medicine is closely related to Japanese/korean herbal medicine (and i believe chinese herbal medicine is a significant export from china to japan), and the Japanese claim to have life expectancies that are among the longest in the world. 
 
And what about the latest news that anti-oxidant pills/supplements do more harm than good, if  indeed it ever did any good? well,it surely did well for the purveyers of such supplements.  Who are we believe? the popular and sensational news media? the bloated government agencies?
 
In any case:
It is dangerous to eat, it is more dangerous  to live.
 


#10 annabelle

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:11 AM

Relax, dude.  It wasn't personal.  The information about Chinese herbal medicines (which, no I do not use) was widely disseminated in the Western press.  As a caution, not unlike the NYT article about spices and herbs.



#11 Toliver

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:31 AM

All that your post is missing is a "Bah, Humbug!"

Adding ' raw' spices at the table is, i believe, a 'western'  practice. If the NYT and FDA are really concerned about consumers and the nasties in  spices, and not about publishing a sensational attention grabing article with overtones of zenophobia, then why not just warn against such practice? Or call for a  ban of such practice?, ie do not add raw spices at the table?  In a sort of techie-speak, if you use something out of spec, then you are on your own.

So when I season my meal with salt and pepper at the table, I'm "out of spec"? I should know better and toast my salt and pepper before use?

It's just salt and pepper. What's the big deal?

"Hot Sauce That Packs More Than Heat"

Maybe I will get lucky like the entire nation of China, according to you, that doesn't seem to be doing too badly what with their exposure to lead and gosh, I'll be just fine, too.                    

It's not just about hot sauce or the contaminated spices, either. It's a domino effect. There are the thousands of canned and bottled sauces and other food items that are made with the contaminated spices.

But hey, what's a little bit of learning difficulties (a symptom of lead poisoning) between foodies and friends?


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#12 lperry

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:43 AM

If you were pregnant or on chemo, or if you cooked for those who were, you might be grateful for information that could keep your friends and family from becoming unnecessarily sick, or worse. 


Edited by lperry, 30 August 2013 - 10:47 AM.


#13 Porthos

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 12:11 PM

I have salted and peppered my food at the table for decades. My wife is sensitive to saltiness, but my taste buds and metabolism are just fine with it. When I go to restaurants that don't have salt and pepper on the table I ask for them. I have experienced food poisoning. I know what it feels like. In both cases of food poisoning I knew, after it occurred, what the source was. I have yet to have such a reaction to pepper. 


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#14 quiet1

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:38 PM

If you were pregnant or on chemo, or if you cooked for those who were, you might be grateful for information that could keep your friends and family from becoming unnecessarily sick, or worse. 

 

Exactly. I'm going to share this with my mom because she has a type of blood cancer that means her immune system doesn't work very well, even though she's on treatment for it and doing, by medical standards, quite well. I know a lot of people in her cancer support group are very into the use of spices and herbs for their health benefits also, which means they're probably consuming enough to significantly increase their chances of getting a bad batch and getting sick from it.

 

(Even if it's not something she'll choose to avoid, at least she'll know to mention to the doctor that there's a risk - the same way she usually tells them if she knows she's been exposed to someone who came down with this illness instead of that if she's showing early symptoms. It helps the doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment option.)