ILSI North America requests research proposals on spices

February 15, 2013

The North American branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a public, non-profit scientific foundation that provides a forum to advance understanding of scientific issues related to the nutritional quality and safety of the food supply by sponsoring research programs, educational seminars, and workshops and publications. The ILSI North America Technical Committee on Food is requesting pre-proposals for research funding in the area of spices. Pre-proposals are due March 22, 2013, and will be judged on their scientific quality, their relevance to the committee’s goals outlined below, and their potential for producing strong scientific information on which to base public health policy.

The spices and seasoning category is among the top three for Reportable Food Registry submissions for Salmonella in human foods over the past two years. Spices are often treated with ethylene oxide (ETO), propylene oxide (PPO), gamma-irradiation, or steam treatment (with and without controlled condensation). Validation of the effectiveness of these treatments to reduce the level of Salmonella is challenging since standardized inoculation protocols are not well established and surrogate organisms have not been identified for validation of commercial systems. The ILSI North America Technical Committee on Food Microbiology is requesting research proposals that define validation protocols for the pathogen reduction processes used to treat spices and validate treatment efficacy to achieve the targeted pathogen reduction.

Applicants are expected to:

  • Develop standardized validation protocols for the treatment of one or more of the spice and herb categories from the following list (these represent the highest volume spice and herb categories): cinnamon, black pepper, red peppers (capsicums), leafy herbs (oregano or thyme), cumin or celery seed, onion powder, and garlic powder. These protocols could include the use of the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA) and FDA’s established set of templates developed in 2001. Applicants may obtain templates by contacting ILSI North America.
  • Identify appropriate Salmonella surrogates for use in on-line process validations of selected spice and herb products.
  • Develop pathogen and surrogate inoculation and stabilization protocols in the selected spice and herb products.
  • Provide proof of principle by using these protocols to validate one or more of the most common technologies (i.e., steam, ETO, PPO, gamma-irradiation) for treatment of all or selected spices and herbs.

Press release