Bugs Are Making Their Way Into Your Spices - NBC New York
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Bugs Are Making Their Way Into Your Spices

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bugs Are Making Their Way Into Your Spices

    Spices are commonly contaminated with insects or insect parts. Lynda Baquero reports on how much. (Published Thursday, May 17, 2018)

    What to Know

    • The Food and Drug Administration estimates that about 12 percent of imported spices are contaminated with insect parts, an expert said

    • The FDA allows an average of 475 or more insect fragments per 50 grams of ground pepper

    • An expert said to reduce the risk of finding a creepy crawler, you can put spices in the freezer to kill off bugs

    Next time you use that jar of spice, take a closer look, because it's possible you might find a bug or two lurking around. 

    "It's definitely more common than we think. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has done a study that estimates about 12 percent of imported spices are actually contaminated with insect parts," said Jackie London, Good Housekeeping Nutrition Director.

    In a FDA document dated March of this year, there's a handbook of the "defect levels" allowed in certain foods "that present no health hazards for humans."

    For example, with ground pepper, the FDA allows an average of 475 or more insect fragments per 50 grams.

    "Definitely more likely to see bugs in any type of spicy spices so things like paprika, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, turmeric," London said.

    To reduce the risk of finding a creepy crawler, she gave us this tip:

    "When you get home, you can put these into the freezer, which can kill off the bugs," London said. "It should definitely be in there for three days plus."

    So, it may be time for all of us to make a little more room in the freezer.

    The FDA says it set these "defect action levels" for certain foods because they say it's economically impractical to process products totally free of non-hazardous, naturally occurring defects. But they point out products harmful to consumers are subject to regulatory action whether or not they exceed these action levels.

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