The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report today with the grim news that Salmonella infections have shown a marked increase in the last decade. While other foodborne illnesses have seen a decrease, the rate of infection due to Salmonella bacteria has increased 10 percent. According to Healthnews.
Salmonella is a bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. It is passed in the feces of infected species and remains active. Human infection generally occurs through contaminated food sources which are not properly cleaned, prepared and/or thoroughly cooked.
Humans with Salmonella usually have nausea and vomiting which progresses to diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after exposure. Most people with healthy immune systems recover without needing medical treatment. Salmonella can be life-threatening if dehydration occurs or if the infection spreads beyond the intestines.
Everything from eggs, ground beef, peanut butter, and produce such as sprouts, tomatoes, jalapenos and lettuce have seen recalls in the last several years. “More than 1 million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year, and Salmonella accounts for about half of the hospitalizations and deaths among the nine foodborne illnesses CDC tracks through FoodNet,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
According to the CDC, Salmonella, which is responsible for an estimated $365 million in direct medical costs each year in the United States, can be challenging to address because so many different foods can become contaminated with it and finding the source can be challenging because it can be introduced in many different ways.
The FDA, which regulates eggs, produce and many processed foods, has developed new rules for the egg industry to follow under its recently expanded regulatory authorities. It’s a step in the right direction but given the proliferation of infections, more regulatory efforts may be necessary.
Safety Precautions from the CDC
You can keep you and your family safer by remembering to:
- Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.
- Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods.
- Cook. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.
- Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate food that will spoil.
- Don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
- Be especially careful preparing food for children, pregnant woman, those in poor health, and older adults.