What is the deal with all of these food recalls?

First, it was romaine lettuce. Now it’s goldfish crackers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certainly been busy.

It seems like every week this summer a different food is under scrutiny of a potentially harmful outbreak. From E. Coli to Salmonella, here is what you need to know about the latest food recalls.

Notable recent food outbreaks:

March

 

April

 

June

 

July

 

Typically a majority of the FDA’s recalls are centered around undeclared ingredients such as peanuts or soy, which can cause allergic reactions. However, the recent spike in Salmonella recalls raises questions about the cause of all of these outbreaks.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is the name given to over 2,000 types of bacteria. The bacteria causes an infection called salmonellosis. It is estimated that salmonella sickens 1.2 million people in the U.S. every year, causing 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths. Salmonella lives in the gut of infected human and animals and is shed through feces. Infected livestock most commonly lead to contaminated food and water.

The recent recalls of Goldfish, Ritz crackers, Swiss Rolls and Honey Smackers have shocked some who did not know that salmonella could contaminate dry goods. However, whey powder is a byproduct of milk and can be contaminated with salmonella.

Consuming salmonella leads to an intestinal infection that can cause abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea. The symptoms typically appear three to four days after consumption and can last up to seven days. However, if the infection spreads to the bloodstream then it can lead to hospitalization. Salmonellosis can be deadly if not treated quickly with proper antibiotics.

What is E. Coli?

E. Coli is also a type of bacteria that typically lives in the intestines of people and humans. However, certain strains of E. Coli can cause intestinal infections. The symptoms are similar to Salmonella, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Severe cases can lead to kidney failure.

E. Coli exposure is usually from contaminated food or water, typically raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef.

How to avoid Salmonella and E. Coli:

  • Practice proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.
  • Clean, separate, cook and chill your food.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with running water.
  • Cook meat thoroughly.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate food. Keep raw meat separate from everything else in your kitchen.  
  • Avoid eating high-risks such as undercooked eggs or unpasteurized milk.

 

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