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Three batches of MDH Sambhar Masala were taken off the shelves earlier this week in the US. US FDA found salmonella bacteria in them. The batches were produced by R Pure Agro Specialities and distributed by the House of Spices.
It’s not typhoid bacteria
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi. Other Salmonella serotypes are collectively known as nontyphoidal salmonellae and are frequently isolated from the stool of patients with gastroenteritis.
Salmonella infection is most commonly associated with ingestion of poultry, eggs, and milk products, but many other food products and spices and animal contacts are also sources of infection.
6.6% of spices all over the world may have them
The FDA first started looking into the issue of salmonella in the spices in 2013. After two years and more than 7,000 spice batches tested, the agency reported in 2016 that spices are more than twice (6.6 percent) as likely as any other imported food to be contaminated with salmonella.
Of the 79 countries that were included, just under half—37 of them—had a salmonella problem and that problem was widespread. Basil, black pepper, oregano, paprika, red pepper (capsicum), coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, sesame seed, and white pepper were all sources of salmonella.
They do not get noted
Most spices are heated before they are consumed and hence most infections do not get noted. Sometimes spices are used over salads and chaat etc. which are neither heated nor cooked. Hence, all packed spices should be gamma irradiated before being despatched for marketing. This will also increase their shelf life.
They cause diarrhea
Nontyphoidal salmonellae are an important bacterial cause of diarrheal disease. The epidemiology and pathophysiology of nontyphoidal strains differ from typhoidal strains. Symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis typically occur within 8 to 72 hours following exposure. The cardinal features include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and abdominal cramping; they are usually self-limited.
- Salmonella is 1 of 4 key global causes of diarrheal diseases.
- Most cases of salmonellosis are mild; however, sometimes it can be life-threatening. The severity of the disease depends on host factors and the serotype of Salmonella.
- Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health concern and Salmonella is one of the microorganisms in which some resistant serotypes have emerged, affecting the food chain.
- Basic food hygiene practices, such as "cook thoroughly", are recommended as a preventive measure against salmonellosis.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA