Go ahead … Cilantro your salsa! Nutmeg your spinach! Cinnamon your apples! It’s all about elevating the flavor of food without added sugar or fat. Plus there’s the added spice benefit; the potential to help fight cancer and inflammation.
From brand names to specialty shops and online markets, patients can find a wide variety of spices everywhere they look — but there’s one caveat that could have a big consequence for them, particularly if they’re immunocompromised.
Did you know that imported dried spices can be one of the most contaminated imported foods containing bacteria that cause food poisoning, particularly salmonella? And we’re talking about common spices such as black pepper, oregano and basil.
Although eighty percent of spices in the US are imported, you can help protect patients with these smart spice steps; #5 being very important for those immunocompromised:
- Heating and toasting spices bring out the fabulous flavors of the natural oils but can also kill bacteria. In cooking, a temperature between 150-170 degrees F will destroy bacteria. On the flip side, freezing spices doesn’t kill salmonella.
- A general rule: the cheaper the spice, the more likely it is to be contaminated. One reason it’s so important to buy quality spices is that if they add them to an already prepared food, salmonella could be added too.
- Ask questions or read online about the food safety practices of the company they buy from such as requirement of their suppliers to make sure spices are safe, if the spices are treated to kill bacteria, etc.
- Label spices and use them within a year or freeze.
- If someone in the family is at high risk such as a compromised immune system, toast the spices or add during cooking to be very safe.
Arm your patients with the information they need to stay healthy. The opportunities to pump up flavor with dried spices are endless.