Anhing Corp. of Los Angeles is conducting a national recall of Caravelle brand chili powder due to possible contamination with our old friend salmonella, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The imported chili powder was sold at retail stores in 8-ounce plastic tubs with lot code 560916. The product has an orange label that reads "Caravelle CHILI POWDER HOT Net Weight 8 oz. Packed For ANHING CORP.} Product of Thailand." The label also contains Thai and Chinese wording, and the tub has a red top.
The bar code is 080736115551 and the lot codes are 560916 or 570115. You can find these on a white label at the bottom of the plastic tub, the FDA says.
No illnesses have been reported. The recall was triggered by routine testing by the state of Maryland. Anhing has stopped distributing the spice as the FDA and the company investigate the cause.
According to a report by the FDA released last November, 6.6 percent of spices imported into the U.S. from 2007 to 2009 were contaminated with salmonella. A wide variety of spice types and forms - everything from basic black pepper to sesame seeds - was found to contain the bacteria, and more than 80 different salmonella serotypes were isolated from spices in contaminated shipments. Nearly 7 percent of those exhibited antimicrobial-resistant properties.
A full 12 percent of imported spices contained rodent hair, bug parts and other filth.
Most of the U.S. spice supply is imported, the FDA says, mostly from India (about 25%) and Mexico - whose spices also happen to have the highest rates of contamination.
"The study's findings suggest that the presence of pathogens, such as salmonella, and filth in spices is a systemic challenge," the FDA said in their 2013 report.
It's hard to tell how many of the nearly 1.2 million annual salmonella illnesses in the U.S result from contaminated spices, according to officials. It's difficult to pin down food poisoning to that chili powder in your chicken curry. Also, people tend not to think of spices when asked what foods might have made them sick, so illnesses related to spices could be seriously underreported, officials said.
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Consumers who purchased the Caravelle chili powder can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. If you have questions, call the company at 323-221-8003 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST. Be prepared to say "Hello" in Thai (sa wat dee) - and, if you are a food reporter, for their representative to say, "I have no comment" and hang up on you.
They're friendlier in Bangkok!