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In the News: Contaminated Herbs In Spain?

3/7/2011 11:05:47 AM

Tags: Katie Priebe, Contaminated Herbs and Spices, Spanish Market, Bacteria, In The News

K.PriebeSpain is a country I have grown very fond of! I have traveled and studied there a couple of times and have grown accustomed to their food, including herbs. Street markets are popular in Spain and provide an easy way to pick up herbs and spices for cooking. But be wary of the herbs and spices you pick up. According to, about 26 percent of herbs and 20 percent of spices sold in Spain are contaminated by various bacteria.

A research team at the University of Valencia made this discovery. The findings suggest that health and hygiene controls need to be more strict before these herbs and spices reach the market for distribution.

The researchers at the university studied 53 different samples of spices and herbs. Two herbs they studied were thyme and oregano.

Here is what they found in contaminated herbs and spices:

• 10 percent of spices were contaminated with mesophilic aerobic microorganisms.
• 20 percent of spices were contaminated with entherobacteriaceae.
• 26 percent of aromatic herbs were contaminated with both of these kinds of bacteria. 

Spain Spice
Spices are displayed for sale in a market in Granada, Spain.
Photo by Trent Strohm/Courtesy Flickr

Researchers also discovered that thyme, one of the herb analyzed during the study, displayed fairly good hygiene and health qualities. Researchers believe this is because of the essential oils with anti-bacterial properties. Other herbs that were studied did not have the same results.

Check out more information about this in Scientific Computing: Information Technology for Science.  

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