, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 364-368
Date: 17 Sep 2010

Assessment of the Microbiological Safety of Dried Spices and Herbs Commercialized in Spain

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Spices and herbs are natural products or their blends that must be free of extraneous matter content. Conventional production of these products implicates a number of hygienic problems so spices and herbs may be exposed to a wide range of microbial contamination during pre- and post-harvest and they can present high microbial counts. In this study, we have analyzed the microbial quality of 53 samples of spices and dry herbs collected from Spanish markets detecting a contamination of samples of spices with mesophilic aerobic counts (10%) and Enterobacteriaceae (20%). The analysis from herbs showed that the percentage of contamination was 26% in both microbiological values. Pathogenic microorganisms like Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia intermedia, Shigella spp., Enterobacter spp., Acinetobacter calcoaceticus and Hafni alvei were also isolated from spices and herbs. These unsatisfactory results showed a poor microbiological quality. Spices and dry herbs are used as ingredients in a variety of products prepared in different ways, this fact suggests the need to provide a control system to improve the quality of herbs and spices.