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Worldwide, spices are used to enhance the flavor of foods. In many cultures, spices are considered ready-to-eat and are added to foods after cooking, creating some risk for consumers if the spices have been contaminated with human pathogens. Several outbreaks of foodborne illness, associated with the consumption of spices have occurred; furthermore, numerous recalls of spices contaminated with bacterial pathogens have occurred in the last several years. The majority of these outbreaks and recalls were attributed to one pathogenic bacteria, Salmonella. The aims of this project are to: 1) Develop standardized validation protocols for the treatment of black peppercorns and cumin seeds, 2) Identify appropriate Salmonella surrogates for use in on-line process validations of these selected spices, 3) Develop pathogen and surrogate inoculation and stabilization protocols in the selected spices, 4) Provide proof of principle by using these protocols to validate two of the most common technologies (i.e., Steam, ETO, Irradiation) for treatment of the selected spices, and 5) Evaluate the sensory properties of the spices.

Institution: Virginia Tech
Principal Investigator: Monica Ponder, PhD
Amount Awarded: $207,688
Year Awarded: 2013

Read more:
Inoculation Preparation Affects Survival of Salmonella enterica on Whole Black Peppercorns and Cumin Seeds Stored at Low Water Activity
Inactivation of Salmonella enterica and Surrogate Enterococcus faecium on Whole Black Peppercorns and Cumin Seeds Using Vacuum Steam Pasteurization

Learn more about the ILSI North America Food Microbiology Committee.