From the Salmonella-in-low-moisture-foods file: your Devil’s dung may be contaminated

A few years ago CDC foodborne illness outbreak guru Robert Tauxe told a group of food safety folks that the next big thing for food safety was low-moisture ingredients. Salmonella is hardy, especially when stressed through drying, so it sticks around for a while in dry ingredients.

Tauxe’s comments were post- Salmonella Tennessee in Peter Pan peanut butter and pre- Salmonella Wandsworth in Veggie Booty (and other outbreaks) and he talked about dried spices and flavorings and peanut butter-type products like hummus and tahini.

Six years later and Salmonella continues to pop up in dry places like asafoetida powder. I had to look it up.Unknown-8

According to Wikipedia (where everything is true):

Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb. The species is native to the deserts of Iran, mountains of Afghanistan, and is mainly cultivated in nearby India. As its name suggests, asafoetida has a fetid smell but in cooked dishes it delivers a smooth flavour reminiscent of leeks.

And it is known by some as Devil’s dung.

According to FDA, Shakti Group USA LLC is recalling some Asafoetida powder,

Shakti Group USA LLC of New Brunswick, NJ is recalling 50 gm and 100 gm sizes of L.G Compounded Asafoetida Powder, both coded with Lot Number: 2323 because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

L.G COMPOUNDED ASAFOETIDA POWDER was distributed to OH, NJ, VA, NH, and PA through retail stores.

The product is packaged in a white screw cap plastic bottle with UPC 840222000149, Lot Number: 2323.

The recall was as a result of a sampling conducted by the FDA which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. Shakti Group has ceased the production and distribution of the product.