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Oct 30, 2013 04:15 PM

12 percent of spices brought to the United States are contaminated with insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things

From the NY Times:
"About 12 percent of spices brought to the United States are contaminated with insect parts, whole insects, rodent hairs and other things, according to an analysis of spice imports by federal food authorities ... [A]lso ... nearly 7 percent of spice imports examined by federal inspectors were contaminated with salmonella ..."

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  1. I watched a documentary years ago about a Korean food company that almost went bankrupt, a firm came in and saved the company. They appointed a woman to to take over as ingredient buyer, she went to China and Thailand where they were buying their spices, she had a hidden camera. Needless to say the places were filthy, she had film footage of workers sweeping the floor and throwing it in the big spice bins. She fired them on the spot and hired a firm from the middle east. Quite an eye opening documentary.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        I have a bunch of friends who trade cocoa and none of them eat chocolate. There is a permissible level of foreign particulate matter that is specified by FDA rules. Once you see the foreign particulate matter as a undulating body of bugs covering the cocoa pods, you stop eating chocolate. The more you know, the less you want to know...

        1. re: Bkeats

          but you don't eat those pods. A lot happens to what's inside those pods before it gets to the consumer.

          1. re: ChefJune

            Yes, the pods are processed into cake and butter but "foreign particulate" goes along with them and ultimately into the chocolate you consume. My point was that people who I know that are intimately familiar with the cocoa food chain don't eat chocolate because they know too much.

            1. re: Bkeats

              The same is true of grains in the U.S. Lots of bugs and critters end up bloodied and dead (and live, in the case of bugs) during harvesting, ground up in there.

      2. "The shares of imported spices contaminated with insect parts and salmonella were twice those found in other types of imported food, federal food officials said."

        Hmm, so 6% of all other imported food is contaminated with insect parts. Nice. The question is how much insect/rodent matter do they have to find to declare something contaminated. Because I would think that approximately 100% of all bulk spice shipments will contain some small amount of insect parts and rodent hairs.

        1. read this:

          most every dry grocery staple you buy contains insect parts, whole insects, and rodent hairs.

          It's part of life.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sunshine842

            Yes, and probably not as bad for you as some other ingredients we did not evolve alongside. Insects and rodents - hmm, shellfish and meat. Gross, maybe, but not that toxic unless they ate pesticides before they got into the goods.

            In Colin Spencer's book Vegetarianism: a history, he cites an English study that discovered that the reason Jains in the UK were getting sick on a purely vegetarian diet that Jains had been eating and thriving on for many centuries in India - was that the insect parts and rodent hair/urine in Indian grain (and absent in UK grain) supplied sufficient animal content to provide the necessary minerals and B-vitamins, etc. to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

          2. They fail to mention anything about contamination of local produce.