A 3-year national retail market survey was made to determine the sanitary quality of ground and unground marjoram, sage and thyme, and ground allspice, black pepper and paprika. The official methods of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists were used to count light filth such as insect fragments, rodent hair fragments, feather barbules, mites, thrips and aphids. Insect fragments were the most frequently encountered defect, with count means ranging from 7.8 for 10 g of ground allspice to 287.7 for 10 g of ground thyme. The percent of samples containing insect fragments ranged from 70.8 to 99.6 for ground allspice and ground thyme, respectively. Other counts ranged as follows: rodent hair fragments, 0 to 200 (for 10 g of ground sage); feather barbules, 0 to 60 (for 10 g of ground sage); mites, 0 to 999 (for 25 g of unground thyme); thrips, 0 to 99 (for 25 g of unground thyme); aphids, 0 to 116 (for 10 g of ground sage). Howard mold counts of paprika ranged from 0 to 99%, with a mean of 2.8%.

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Author notes

1Division of Microbiology.

2Division of Mathematics.

3Current address: 817 Briar Lane NE, Bemidji, MN 56601.