Saturday, July 13, 2013


Did you think that herbs could not be contaminated? Not true. Even organic ones.

Over the past few years, American and Canadian food processing companies, restaurants and consumers, have begun to use more and more herbs in food.

Now there is a recall for oregano - that popular herb that we love to put in our pasta sauce, on our pizza, and in other foods. I have a couple of wonderful types of oregano growing in my garden, so I no longer buy it. But, if you do, Olde Thompson Inc. located in Oxnard, California, has just recalled certain lots of Earth’s Pride Organics: Organic Oregano that was packaged in a 2.2 oz. glass jars with a cork closure. The reason - possible contamination by Salmonella - a bacterium that can give you a bad case of food poisoning.

According to the recall, these items were sold exclusively at BJ’s Wholesale Club in CT, DE, FL, GA, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, and VA, between January 1, 2013 and July 10, 2013. In other words, for almost six months. If you shop there and use herbs in cooking, you had better check your shelves. But, I also found these herbs for sale on Amazon. I don't know if they may also be contaminated or not, but if you have bought them on line, you may want to call customer service.

Nor is this the first herb recall in the U.S. There have been several recalls of contaminated basil due to Salmonella bacteria being found. There are also frequent recalls of Chinese medicinal herbs. Herbal supplements and herbal teas have also been recalled, in some cases these too were found to be contaminated by Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is a survivor and can live in very dry conditions - like your herb container - for several months.

The Safe Food Handbook has a whole chapter on Herbs and Spices. Among other things, it notes that often herbs, and especially, spices, are imported from countries which have questionable food safety standards. Of course, the FDA tries to keep them safe. So does the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA). But nothing is 100%. Sometimes that nasty Salmonella slips through... And, in case you were wondering, yes, it is possible to get enough of the bacteria from herbs to make you ill. However, thorough cooking will solve the problem.

To your good health,

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