Many spices from India, the largest exporter of these cooking ingredients to the US, have come under scanner of the health watchdog FDA for being susceptible to Salmonella bacteria contamination.
Salmonella germs are said to have been behind many food poisoning outbreaks in the US, while the food products that can get such contaminations include spices, fish, beef, poultry, milk, eggs and vegetables.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has put nearly 200 India-based firms on its 'red list' due to presence of Salmonella bacteria in the spices and other food products exported by them to the US between 2009 and 2013.
The products being brought into the US by the companies on the FDA's red-list can face "detention without physical examination".
According to the FDA red-list import alert, the contaminated spices include capsicum, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, celery, basil and pepper.
Amid growing concerns about Salmonella, the FDA initiated a research to characterise the prevalence of Salmonella in imported spices.
The study, whose findings are yet to be made public in full, focussed on over 20,000 food shipments that arrived in the US between 2007 and 2009 and found that around 7 per cent of spices were contaminated with salmonella.
Spices from India were found to be the second-most contaminated after Mexico in this study, based on which the FDA is likely to soon initiate the necessary remedial and precautionary actions.
According to available results of the study, a larger proportion of shipments of spices derived from fruit/seeds or leaves of plants were contaminated than those derived from the bark/flower of spice plants.
Besides, Salmonella prevalence was larger for shipments of ground/cracked capsicum and coriander than for shipments of their whole spice counterparts.
Over one million people annually in the US are affected by salmonella, a common cause of food-borne sickness. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.
India exported nearly 7 lakh tonnes of spices and spice products valued at over Rs 11,100 crore in FY'13 against 5.75 lakh tonnes valued at over Rs 9,700 crore in FY'12, however the share of the US in total exports could not be