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Tainted Turmeric

Tainted Turmeric

Image source: flickr.com/photos/jackson3

Spices can add flavor to dishes, and many are also sources of essential nutrients and can contain healthful properties.

What has recently been discovered, however, is making consumers worldwide question the safety of their foods once again. The latest scare among the food supply lies within powdered spices.

Turmeric, thought to be imported from Bangladesh, has just been recalled as it was found to contain high levels of lead. Lead can build up in the body and can onset a myriad of health issues, especially in developing children. Levels that measured as high as 48 parts per million were found in the samples, as reported in a statement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is not clear how the turmeric was tainted with the lead, which could have come from many sources including contaminated soil or during the production process. Most companies have voluntarily recalled the toxic laden shipment of spice.

Herbs and spices are large imports to the U.S. and other countries. The vast majority of all spices found in the U.S. are in fact imported, and sometimes are not even regulated. Often, the products may not be labeled with the country that the ingredients originated from. Even consumers that do not regularly use spices can still ingest them from other packaged items or restaurant foods.

According to the FDA, they have found and refused dozens of other shipments of suspect products in the month of September alone. The spices, salts and seasonings rejected during this time were found to contain many risks, including misbranded packaging to using unsafe color additives, or even were found to contain harmful metals.

Many have been contaminated with salmonella, which have been found in a wide range of items like basil, oregano and even sesame seeds. Lead has been found in herbs and spices, as well as other foods like dried fruits and candies. The products on the list from this specific month came from a range of different countries, including many from India.

The FDA is reportedly preparing to revamp rules to address spice imports and their potential regulatory issues.

For information on recent U.S. recalls and alert notifications by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, check the current Food Safety listings.

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