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Salmonella Outbreaks Prompt Concern Over Food Safety

Multiple salmonella outbreaks have been in the news lately. Most recently, the CDC reported 73 cases of salmonella linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. The outbreak reached 31 states and resulted in 24 hospitalizations.

In response, The Kellogg Co. voluntarily recalled 15.3-oz. and 23-oz. packages of the cereal. The products had been distributed to retail stores nationally, along with limited distribution to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guam, Tahiti and Saipan.

The latest development in another salmonella outbreak is food safety law firm Pritzker Hageman P.A. initiating a lawsuit against Caito Foods. The firm is representing a woman who developed an abdominal aortic aneurysm after being infected with salmonella. The case will be tried in Toledo, OH.

In total, 60 people became ill with salmonella after eating cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons produced by Caito Foods, according to the CDC. The outbreak reached five states and resulted in 31 hospitalizations from April 30 to May 28. The company distributed the products in eight states.

These recent outbreaks are prompting discussions on the safety of the food we eat. How do consumers come into contact with dangerous bacteria, and how can manufacturers prevent that from happening?

More research, such as Ecolab’s work published in the Journal of Food Protection, is important to us coming up with solutions to the food safety issue. That research confirmed that fruit flies can spread salmonella, as well as E. coli and listeria. The study confirms that their risk to food safety is as threatening as other pests, including cockroaches, rodents and house flies, according to Ecolab’s senior staff scientist.

Here are other salmonella-related issues recently reported by the CDC:

  • Ziyad Brothers Importing voluntarily recalled select lots of Tahini Sesame Paste due to potential contamination. The affected products were distributed nationwide and sold in 8-oz., 16-oz., and 32-oz. sizes as well as half-gallon jars.
  • An outbreak linked to shell eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms reached 45 cases across 10 states, resulting in 11 hospitalizations.
  • An outbreak linked to chicken salad products reached 265 cases across eight states, resulting in 94 hospitalizations and one death.
  • Global Commodities Corp. voluntarily recalled one lot of Buenas Brand frozen grated coconut due to potential contamination. The product was shipped to retailers in northern California beginning in February.

A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that a foodborne illness outbreak could cost a restaurant millions of dollars. But how much will these outbreaks cost the food industry, and, most importantly, consumers?