[Sca-cooks] Recall on spices and food safety
t.d.decker at att.net
Sat May 16 12:31:51 PDT 2009
Salmonella bacteria are tough. They can survive outside of a host for
several weeks (years under the right conditions). The recommended method of
destroying them in food is a minimum of 10 minutes at 75 degrees C (167
degrees F). Flash pasteurization, as I understand it, only does a maximum
of 74 C for 30 seconds.
Globalization of food sources is facilitating the rapid spread of some
pathogens, among them salmonella. Inspections only cover between 2 and 5
percent of foodstuffs imported into the US (if the figures I have are
correct). To add to the problem, the capacity to perform inspections has
been seriously degraded during the past eight years by underfunding and a
reduction in the number of inspectors and lab techs. We are fortunate that
many of our large agribusiness corporations see that they have a vested
interest in the health of their customers and perform internal testing to
ensure the quality of their products. However, there is a strong profit
advantage in not testing or ignoring the results of the test, as
demonstrated by the recent problem with infected peanut products.
Two other problems are, a cargo of foodstuffs may not be widely infected so
that inspection will miss the problem and foodstuffs may become tainted
anywhere in the process between field and table so that the food may not
have problems when it is tested.
If we expanded the current system to be able to inspect all food products,
the cost would be prohibitive, although in the short run an increase in
iinspectors and funding for the test labs is probably in order. What is
really needed are better methods and tools to perform continuous testing
from field to table. It is a big problem and the people who solve it will
likely get rich in the process.
> Hey, I'm on the west coast and there hasn't been any mention of this in
> Since we sell spices, I called my broker, who said it was a limited
> outbreak due to improper customs inspection ( or lack of).
> He said the major companies require testing of product before they
> distribute it bulk or by retail.
> So feel free to use other brands.
> My question is: Since most seed pods and whole spices are flash heat
> pasteurized, how does the germs stay alive? Are we dealing with a lack of
> protocol? Or a lack of inspectors? Or has the whole quality vs price
> down all the respect for the food we eat?
> This is how we lost the Szechwan peppercorn several years ago. Someone
> didn't process them right and the product carried some citrus disease that
> spread to the United States. It was on the banned list until they figured
> what killed the disease and they require all peppercorns to be processed
> now. Thank goodness they solved that problem as the oriental cooking is
> somewhat boring without them.
> I am more worried about the chili peppers grown locally and in North
> America. Some of the gardening and harvesting techniques haven't been
> since who knows when.
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