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26 percent of herbs eaten in Spain are contaminated with bacteria

A research team from the University of Valencia has discovered that up to 20% of spices and 26% of herbs sold in Spain are contaminated by various bacteria, reducing their quality. The study, which is the first of its kind in Spain, suggests that health and hygiene control systems should be put in place, from cultivation of these products right through to when they reach the market.

Scientists from the University of Valencia have for the first time studied the microbiological quality of 53 samples of spices and herbs such as thyme and oregano sold at Spanish markets.

The results, which have been published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, show that 10% of spices are contaminated with mesophilic aerobic microorganisms and 20% with enterobacteriaceae. The contamination level in aromatic herbs was 26% for both these kinds of bacteria.

The studies detected the presence of bacteria from the genuses Acinetobacter (A. calcoaceticus), Enterobacter and Shigella. Species of microorganisms such as Yersinia intermedia, Staphylococcus aureus and Hafni alvei were also found.
 
 

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