Food safety raid on flour, curry powder units

I never knew what masala was until Sorenne really liked the Indian chicken takeaway.

sorenne.jacques.jun.16So I’ve been trying to recreate the dish at home.

Guess it can suck at food safety too.

Food safety officials inspected 21 large-scale manufacturing units making curry, masala powders and flour on Wednesday. Six of the units were issued improvement notices while a fine of Rs.75,000 was imposed on five others.

Officials collected 20 statutory samples of curry powders and 36 surveillance samples for quality checks.

Food safety officials closed down a Nirapara roller flour mill at Attingal where raw materials like wheat were found to be stored in unhygienic and unclean conditions.

In Palakkad district, food safety officials seized and sealed stocks of cumin, coriander and turmeric from the Aanakkara Food Processing and Export Pvt. Ltd., as these were found to be sub-standard.

Spices strike again: Chicken tikka products recalled over salmonella fear in UK

A popular producer of snacks has recalled numerous products over salmonella fears.

Chicken-Tikka-Wrap-LunchboxEasy Eats – who have their products stored in numerous major supermarkets, as well as high street convenience stores – made the move to withdraw multiple food items.

It is understood that there is a possible presence of salmonella in the products, which can be found listed below.

“This is due to the possible presence of salmonella in the tikka powder ingredient used to manufacture these products.”

Tikka is a curry powder with a mixture of spices and yoghurt.

The following products are being recalled:

Snax on the Go Chicken Tikka Filler & Fillings
‘Use by’ date: 8 February 2016

Snax on the Go Mixed Case (includes Chicken Tikka Sandwiches)
‘Use by’ date: 15 February 2016

Snacksters Chicken Tikka Sandwiches
‘Use by’ dates: 15 February 2016

Snacksters Chicken Tikka Wraps
‘Use by’ date: 8 February 2016

Snacksters Mixed case (includes Chicken Tikka Sandwiches)
‘Use by’ date: 15 February 2016

Best In Chicken Tikka Sandwiches
‘Use by’ date: 15 February 2016

Point-of-sale recall notices will be displayed in stores selling these products.

If you have bought one of these products, do not eat it.

Instead, return it to the store from where it was bought for a full refund.

Epidemiology counts: 143 sick with Salmonella in Sweden linked to spice mix

In the latest incident, at least 80 people picked up salmonella at a restaurant on the Swedish island of Öland last week, with Sweden’s Public Health Authority connecting the outbreak to the savoury spice mix, known as Allkrydda, which is sold in supermarkets across the nation.

Sevan AllkryddaIt said the mix was already suspected of making dozens of other people ill, with a total of 143 salmonella cases reported in 17 out of Sweden’s 21 regions since December 2014.

“This is one of the largest outbreaks in recent years,” Jonas Toljander, a spokesperson for Sweden’s Food Standards Agency (Livsmedelsverket) told the TT newswire on Tuesday.

He added that the spice mix, produced by food company Sevan, was thought to be behind the nationwide salmonella scare, although experts had yet to definitively prove a link.

“It is important to say that we do not yet know if our products are linked to this,” the business manager for Sevan, Julia Kronlund, explained to Swedish broadcaster SVT on Tuesday.

“What they [the victims] have in common is that they have consumed the seasoning mix,” she said, but added that other potential causes of the outbreak could not yet be excluded.

A spokesperson for Sweden’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) told TT that it was now carrying out tests on similar spices, while Sevan said that it had submitted more samples to be checked over by experts.

But Sevan said it was recalling all Allkrydda products sold since 2014, in order to avoid exposing customers to any unnecessary risks. It advised people who had the spice jars at home to return them to the stores where they bought them from, where they would be granted a refund, with Sevan footing the bill.

The recalled spice products are:

Sevan Allkrydda 900g (serial number 7221217881469)

Sevan Allkrydda 450g (serial number 7331217881452)

Sevan Allkrydda Hink 5kg (serial number 7331217010708)

Farm to table oversight, new technologies improving spice safety

New and improved manufacturing technologies, as well as a greater focus on the individual steps of the production process, are helping to enhance spice safety in the U.S. and throughout the world, according to a June 22 panel discussion at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in New Orleans.

spice.rawSpice consumption has grown substantially in the U.S. over the past 25 years, with 86 percent of households regularly using fresh/dried herbs, spices and seasonings, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approximately 60 percent of spices are imported, with 12 percent containing “filth”– various contaminants, including microorganisms and pathogens, such as salmonella. Consumption of spices contaminated with pathogens resulted in 14 reported illness outbreaks from 1973 to 2010 around the world.

“We used to think that if the produce was dry we didn’t need to worry,” said Purnendu Vasavada, PhD, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-River Falls. “However, even a dry spice can maintain microbial properties, including bacteria.”

The challenge is ensuring safety throughout every step of the process, which often begins on a small family farm on the other side of the world, said George C. Ziobro, PhD, a research chemist at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the U.S. alternate delegate to the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs, and one of the authors of the recent FDA draft profile, “Pathogens and Risk in Spices.”

“Novel and improved food production technologies are helping to limit spice contamination,” said Kathiravan Krishnamurthy, PhD, assistant professor of food science and nutrition at Illinois Institute of Technology.

These include pulsed light, cold plasma, and controlled condensation steam processes to eradicate pathogens during the production process. These technologies, however, can be impacted by various external factors, including many that are difficult to monitor or assess.

For example, a spice farm in India “may be as small as a backyard,” or have “15 crops on one farm,” said Ziobro.

It’s important that manufacturers know how the spices are grown, dried, stored and transported, and how the vehicles that transport the spices are cleaned. “All of these (steps in the process) can contribute to problems with sanitation in spices,” said Ziobro.

In the traditional spice sourcing supply chain, “companies are far removed from the source,” said Roger Lawrence, vice president of global quality, regulatory affairs and environmental affairs at McCormick & Company, Inc. To improve product safety, McCormick has worked to lower the number of “partners” involved in the spice production process. 

“Fewer touch points reduce the risk of contamination allowing us to work directly to impact product quality and innovation,” said Lawrence.

The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act will provide more specific guidelines for food manufacturers, including spice manufacturers, to prevent food-borne illness.

While “one outbreak is one too many, one recall is one too many,” Lawrence noted that the FDA has recorded just three contamination/illness outbreaks for spices in 37 years. Spices represent “an extremely small percentage of outbreaks.”

Salmonella in spices, again

Euro Spices Pty Ltd has recalled ground coriander and other spice mixes, sourced from India and available at fruit and vegetable shops and independent supermarkets in New South Wales (that’s a state in Australia) due to Salmonella contamination.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the recalled products include:
• Coriander Ground 50g resealable bag
• Coriander Ground 70g plastic jar
• Almond Dukkah 50g resealable bag
• Almond Dukkah 100g glass jar
• Dukka Pistachio 100g glass jar
• Kofta Bahari 60g resealable bag
• Kabse Mix 60g resealable bag
• Dolma Bahari 60g resealable bag
• Shawarma 60g resealable bag
• Ras El Hanoot 50g resealable bag
• Harissa 60g resealable bag
• Lebanese 7 Spices 50g resealable bag
• Biryani 60g resealable bag

Date marking
Best Before December 2015 (jars display Best Before date as 12\2015).

Salmonella in spices again; paprika from Morocco recalled in Quebec; no one sick

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Alimentarus Import Export Inc. are warning the public and retailers not to sell, use or consume the Piment doux moulu (mild ground paprika) described below because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The affected product, Dar Al Assala brand Piment doux moulu (mild ground paprika), imported from Morocco, was sold to various retail stores in Quebec as 5 kg bags bearing UPC 6 111242 541054, lot code PD17-F278 and best before date 05/10/2012.

This product is also known to have been sold from bulk. If you have purchased bulk paprika on or after November 12, 2010, and are unsure if you have the recalled product, check with your place of purchase to verify if it is subject to the recall.

This product is known to have been distributed in Quebec.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

Safe and savory spices

A 1997 outbreak of cyclospora in fresh basil prepared at a Washington, D.C. restaurant sickened hundreds. Additional outbreaks have been associated with parsley, cilantro and pepper, among others.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that in the middle of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness linked to black and red pepper — and after 16 separate U.S. recalls since 2001 of tainted spices ranging from basil to sage — federal regulators met last week with the spice industry to figure out ways to make the supply safer.

Jeff Farrar, the FDA’s associate commissioner for food safety, said the government wants the spice industry to do more to prevent contamination. That would include use of one of three methods to rid spices of bacteria: irradiation, steam heating or fumigation with ethylene oxide, a pesticide.

"The bottom line is, if there are readily available validated processes out there to reduce the risk of contamination, our expectation is that they will use them," Farrar said. But the FDA cannot currently require it.

Cheryl Deem, executive director of the American Spice Trade Association, said contamination of raw ingredients has long been a problem in the spice industry, adding,

"The vast majority of spices are cultivated outside of the U.S., where processing methods often result in contamination."

Linda Harris, a microbiologist at the University of California at Davis, said,

"In the last 15 years, food safety is just at an increasingly higher level of awareness. We’ve got increased testing, increased detection methods. I don’t think what we’re seeing is necessarily a true increase in prevalence. I think it’s an increase in our ability to detect."

Steve Markus, director of food safety and commercial products at Sterigenics Inc., the biggest food irradiation company in the country, said about half of the nation’s spices are irradiated, but that nearly all companies using irradiation sell to industrial customers. No retail spice company uses irradiation because federal law requires disclosure of irradiation on the label, and the industry thinks consumers will not buy those products.

I’d buy irradiated spices and so would others. No one has tried selling the stuff, so conjectures about consumer behavior based on surveys are meaningless. But, that’s the way many retailers are. Market food safety at retail.