There’s no need to send a sympathy card to Salmonella. Yes, this proud bug dropped into second place on CDC’s list of organisms responsible for foodborne illness in the U.S. in 2016, with 8,172 cases reported on CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), compared to 8,547 cases for Campylobacter. But Salmonella took the lead among all foodborne bacterial pathogens for causing most hospitalizations, 2,255, and deaths, 40, as reported in FoodNet’s April 21, 2017 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
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CDC estimates this relentless gram negative rod causes about 1.2 million illnesses in the U.S. annually, not to mention 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths. Food is the source for about one million of these illnesses.
Salmonellosis in humans is generally contracted through the consumption of contaminated food
of animal origin, mainly eggs, meat, poultry, and milk, although other foods, including fruits and vegetables, have been implicated in its transmission.
Specifically, foods that are most likely to contain Salmonella include raw or undercooked eggs, raw milk, contaminated water, and raw or undercooked meats. Eating unwashed vegetables or fruits, including seeded vegetables and sprouts, increases the risk of Salmonella infection. In recent years, contamination with Salmonella has been found in a variety of tree nuts, including almonds, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.
According to the December 2017 report by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) that addresses foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2013, 75.4 percent of Salmonella illnesses were attributed to seven food categories: seeded vegetables (16 percent), eggs (11.5 percent), chicken (10.4 percent), other produce, such as nuts (9.8 percent), pork (9.3 percent), beef (9.1 percent), and fruits (8.9 percent).
The IFSAC is a tri-agency group created by the CDC, FDA, and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.