Have you seen the recall on cumin recently? This spice was recalled due to undeclared peanut. It was pretty scary to see ground cumin next to ground peanut…so similar in color and texture. This is only one example of spices that are tainted with allergens, salmonella, or other substance that can make some or all of us sick.
How can you know if a spice is going to be recalled. Well, like other foods that are recalled, you really cannot predict.
Here are a few safety tips for you to follow when you shop for spices (it can also apply for other foods as well):
1. Be a detective – Before you buy look online for spice manufacturers – give their customer service reps a call and ask questions about manufacturing processes, cross contamination, storage, and transport of bulk spices. You can also research recalled spices and other foods by going to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) site. We receive very timely reports of foods that have recalled due to undeclared allergens, bacteria (listeria, etc…), and other reasons. This is a recent warning from the FDA about the cumin recall.
2. Stick to spice brands that you have found to be consistently safe and companies with a great reputation for quality spices. If you have questions call the manufacturer.
3. Look at the spice – if you have a feeling that something isn’t quite right don’t buy it. Example – discoloration, visible unfamiliar substances, mold, a scent that isn’t quite right, and compromised packaging (torn, cracked, etc…).
4. Learn about spices – each has a story, a botanical origin, a purpose in a recipe yet may be related to another spice or food that may be on your list of foods to avoid. Here’s the latest article from Allergic Living on the recall.
5. Learn what spices can be substituted for others. For example: freshly chopped garlic in place of garlic powder or garlic salt.
With these safeguards you should be able to spice up your favorite dishes.