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Oklahoma spice makers say their products are safe

A new Food and Drug Administration report states about 12 percent of the spices imported between the 2007 and 2009 fiscal years included filth, including animal hair and insects. But Oklahoma seasoning makers say their products undergo rigorous inspections and are safe.
by Silas Allen Modified: November 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm •  Published: November 5, 2013
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Following a federal report citing insect fragments, animal hair and feces in imported spices, Oklahoma seasoning makers say their products are safe for consumers to use.

Lee Merrifield, head of seasoning maker Daddy Hinkle's, said she is confident the safeguards the company has in place would prevent contaminated spices from reaching supermarket shelves.

“I think we've done due diligence,” she said. “I feel good about it.”

The Food and Drug Administration last week released the report, which looks at pathogens and filth in imported spices.

According to the report, about 12 percent of the spices imported between the 2007 and 2009 fiscal years contained filth, including animal hair and insects, both whole and in pieces. That's nearly twice the average amount for all other imported food the agency regulates.

Nearly all of the insects inspectors found in the samples were “stored product pests,” which indicate improper packing and storage conditions, according to the report.

The report says inspectors also found rodent feces in a small number of the samples.

Merrifield said the Cleveland, OK, company, which makes seasoning mixes and marinades, contracts with other companies to mix its products. Both Daddy Hinkle's and the companies that blend its seasonings undergo health inspections to ensure the products are safe, she said.

The company makes its products in small batches, so they don't sit in warehouses for long, Merrifield said. All of the products the company sells can be traced to their original sources.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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