The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a reminder about the preparation and eating of fresh herbs following a food poisoning outbreak in a Newcastle spice festival affecting 400 people. The outbreak was linked to uncooked curry leaves which were contaminated with several different bacteria including Salmonella.

The FSA advise that when using fresh curry leaves and other fresh herbs, it is important that they are sourced from a reputable supplier and are handled and stored correctly. Any instructions on the packaging for storage, preparation, handling and use on the label should be carefully followed.

If the packaging does not carry any instructions, particular care should be taken, especially if the leaves are intended to be used without cooking. The leaves should be washed thoroughly before use. Cooking would provide further assurance that the product is safe to eat.

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It is important to note that the FSA have written to local authorities asking them to make food businesses aware of the importance of food handling, storage and preparation of fresh herbs, particularly at outdoor events – so there is an expectation for more enforcement activity in this area.

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