FDA issues Q&A on spice safety.

  • In October 2013, FDA released a draft risk profile on the public health risks associated with spices.  The risk profile identified the presence of pathogens, such as Salmonella, and filth in spices as systemic challenges and determined that the problem relates in part to poor or inconsistent use of appropriate controls to prevent contamination.
  • On February 26, FDA issued a Q&A document on spice safety, updating the public on the Agency’s progress and continued activities in this area.  In the Q&A, the Agency references its 2-year nationwide study to collect data on the presence of Salmonella in retail spice products and indicates its hope to complete its analysis and share these results (via the FDA website) “as soon as possible.”  In terms of steps FDA is taking to improve the safety of spices, the Agency notes that it has increased its inspection of spice manufacturing facilities in recent years.  FDA also notes the future application of new requirements under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to the spice industry, with spice facilities and spice importers needing to implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls (HARPC) and a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) for imported spices.
  • On a positive note, FDA concludes its Q&A document by stating that it is “not recommending that consumers change their consumption or use of spices.”  Nevertheless, the spice industry should stay tuned for future developments and regulatory activity in this area, including the upcoming release of the retail study results.