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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

What Spice Recalls Mean for Canadian Consumers

Just a few days ago, a major US brand issued a recall both in the States and Canada of their whole organic peppercorns for salmonella. 

The full recall notice can be found here as well as details of what to do if you have bought the affected items:

The impact a recall can have on both consumer and brand is significant. Organic spices are a food product (usually free from irradiation and fumigation) and therefore not immune from microbiological issues and pathogens. Indeed, no food company is immune from this happening to their products or spices but there are ways this can be mitigated by both the brand and consumer (believe it or not), especially as not all organic spices are the same. 

There are many factors that contribute to pathogens like storage conditions, transit times, micro analysis at harvest and beyond. However, the larger the company, the more likely they are to buy their products in very large quantities leading to potentially longer warehouse and storage time until sold, increasing the risk of pathogens growing in the product. This also increases the reach of people who could have bought the products, taking longer and making it harder to contain the issue and to ensure safe return of affected products. Recalls on a large scale may also cause price fluctuations in the affected product for other brands and ultimately you, the consumer. So what can you do?

What can consumers to do to mitigate their risk?

  • Buy from local or smaller companies.
  • Don't be afraid to try other brands - you might be pleasantly surprised!
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions to the brand. You are the consumer and you have the right to know!
  • Consider buying packaged versus bulk organic spices as this ensure better traceability in case of recall issues.
  • Consider choosing brands that offer the shortest supply or most recent harvest.
  • Use your spices everyday to avoid long term storage issues in your home.

What does Spice Sanctuary to do to mitigate this risk?

  • Buy their products in smaller batches
  • Ensure products meet all requisite screening parameters before and after buying them
  • Ensure products are recent harvest to maximize freshness and minimize spoilage
  • Ensure products are only packaged the once - rebranded or repackaged goods are exposed to multiple environments that may contribute to contaminants.
  • Ensure spices are the best grades available - high volatile oils can act as inhibitors to bacterial micro-organisms

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Creating Moroccan Harmony in Your Kitchen

One of the most amazing gifts the spices in our cupboards gives us is the ability to go on a culinary journey around the world right from our kitchen! This weekend, I hosted a dinner party and the theme was Morocco! Although the food was themed, the preparation and ingredients used all had another common theme: they can be used in and for so many other dishes.

The harmony of flavours created from cumin, coriander, chili, mint, cinnamon, garlic, orange flower water, rose water and nuts is quintessentially Moroccan but why just use them for this when there is a whole world of food and dishes to explore too!

Eggplant Boats

We started with an eggplant dish that I created using the Spice Sanctuary Moroccan Harmony Spice Blend. Just 3 Tablespoons of the blend mixed with some garlic, honey, lemon juice and a little oil and voila! A marinade you can use on almost anything! Try on steaks, lamb, as a salad dressing...

Harissa, Tagine and More!

Our mains consisted of one of the very first recipes I ever created - a chickpea and butternut squash tagine. This was accompanied by Harissa shrimp and a divine nutty rice dish cooked in a tagine which our friends brought!

This was the first time I made Harissa and again, I quickly realized just how versatile this paste can be too! You can use this as a hot and fiery pasta sauce, as a flavouring for soups, in place of store bought Ketchup too....

For my version of a Harissa paste, click here

For the other recipes mentioned, it's a tease but you'll have to wait for the cookbook :)