Spices Top List of Possibly Tainted Foods

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-10_2b574652fc.jpgABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Spices are the latest kitchen standby to land on a list of possibly tainted foods. Roughly 7 percent of imported spices tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were contaminated with salmonella, a potentially deadly bacterium. Twelve percent contained insect parts or rodent hairs, according to the FDA report.

"The bug parts aren't going to harm you, but no one wants to eat those," said ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "The salmonella can cause disease, but probably less than you might think, because we tend to cook the spices. We tend to not use very many of them."

Nevertheless, there have been at least 14 spice-related disease outbreaks worldwide in the past 30 years, sickening more than 1,900 people and killing at least two, according to the FDA report.

"You usually think it's the chicken, not the paprika," Besser said.

At least 9 million Americans suffer from a foodborne illness caused by a major pathogen each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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