The amount of spices and most botanical ingredients used in foods usually is very low. However, there have been outbreaks of illness in which these foods were believed to be the vehicle for human pathogens. Raw materials and extracts of botanical origin also are consumed in relatively small portions in dietary supplements and over-the-counter medicinal products containing plant-based constituents as the assumed active ingredients. The FDA reviewed the food safety concerns for these products in a publication entitled: Draft Risk Profile: Pathogens and Filth in Spices.
These outbreaks prompted concern at the FDA about the consumer safety of products containing spices and botanical ingredients. The FDA’s concern led JIFSAN to the development of a training course to address the topic of Supply Chain Management for Spices and Botanical Ingredients (SCMSBI). The emphasis of the program has been on training in the Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices that help to minimize the risk of microbial contamination occurring in the supply chain.
The focus of the SCMSBI has been on India. The pilot program was conducted in Cochin, India in 2012 and was designed to be completed in a five-day period. It included sections on GAP, GMP and regulatory concerns for the importation of spices and botanical ingredients into the U.S. A field trip to farms and processing and handling centers was included mid-week to allow trainers and course participants to have hands-on exposure to practices of concern in the industry.
Subsequent programs have reached out to farmers over a broad geographic area within India. Refer to the discussion of this activity under Collaborative Training Initiatives for more details.