Microbiological survey of retail herbs and spices from Mexican markets.J Food Prot 2001; 64(1):99-103JF
In the present study, 304 samples of herbs and spices (garlic powder, cumin seeds, black pepper, oregano, and bay leaves) widely used in Mexico were analyzed for the presence of Bacillus cereus, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella dysenteriae, Escherichia coli, total and fecal coliforms, total mesophilic aerobic organisms, and fungi. Samples were nonpackaged or packaged in polyethylene bags or glass containers. High levels (10(5) to 10(7) CFU/g) of mesophilic aerobic microorganisms were found in most of the samples of garlic powder, cumin seed, and black pepper. Lower levels (<102 CFU/g) were found in oregano and bay leaves. Total and fecal coliforms counts were dependent on the type of packaging. More than 70% of the polyethylene-packaged samples had less than 10(3) CFU/g of microorganisms. Glass and nonpackaged spices showed lower levels of these microorganisms. B. cereus was present in 32 samples of which most were polyethylene packaged. The other pathogenic bacteria were not detected. Aspergillus niger was detected in 29% of the samples, Rhizopus sp. in 19%, and Penicillum sp. and Cunninghamella in 8%.