The production, handling, processing and marketing of over-the-counter medicinal products manufactured from plants is virtually unregulated. This can include dietary supplements, functional foods and nutraceuticals, any of which may contain botanical constituents. Of particular concern is the possible presence of human pathogens in products offered at retail. A review of literature is presented. Options for sterilizing herbal medicinal products, including fumigation, irradiation and heat treatments, are presented. Experiences of the spice industry are discussed as they relate to the development of similar protocols for herbal medicines. Methods used to ensure microbiological safety must be evaluated for their effect on the medicinally active constituents in the plant material. Very little data of this nature are available. Avenues for future research are proposed.
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