NEW ORLEANS -- At the New Orleans school of cooking, it's all about fresh food and bold spices.

Chef Kevin Belton said the school gets many of its spices mixed by the man who made Cajun food famous, Chef Paul Prudhomme.

Paul is a stickler for picking the best spices, Belton said. That's the thing, in Louisiana we have such a bounty of product we don't need to rely on anyone else. We have such great stuff ourselves.

That's not the case for some restaurants who felt the blow of the most recent Federal Drug Aministration (FDA) warning about imported spices.

A recent study shows in a three-year period, more than 700 shipments of imported spices were contaminated with salmonella and used on food on your dinner table.

Another 240 shipments were denied because of reported filth in the packaging.

Inspectors found things like insects, waste and even hair on the checked spices.

Unfortunately the FDA can't sample every food that comes into this country. We know based on some data that about 7-percent of all spices imported in this country seem to be infected with salmonella, said Dr. Fred Lopez with the LSU Health Sciences Center.

The report didn't state the countries of origin, but past spice outbreaks were linked to India, China and Vietnam.

The United States is one of the largest importers in the world with more than 80 percent of its supply coming in from overseas.

Dr. Lopez studies infectious diseases and said food handling in other countries isn't as thorough. However, there are still ways to fight an infection.

Adding those spices during cooking would be an effective way of decreasing the likelihood of becoming affected, Lopez said.

Spices made in the USA are not part of this investigation, only import spices.

Health experts recommend you cook all your food at 160 degrees to kill any traces of bacteria.

Visit more on the FDA s website here.

Read or Share this story: