Salmonella poisoning, or salmonellosis, is an illness inspired by the consumption of one of over 2,000 foodborne salmonella strains. “Salmonella infection usually occurs when a person eats food contaminated with the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria,” says Foodborne Illness.
According to WebMD, salmonellosis is “more common in the summer than in the winter” and kids are most likely to get it. Those with compromised immune systems may experience severe infections. Salmonella outbreaks shut down food operations far too regularly, and it appears that without the utmost care and caution, foods that regularly contain salmonella bacteria can make it into the hands of consumers and ultimately infect them.
There are roughly one million instances of salmonella poisoning yearly in the United States. Somewhere around 400 people lose their lives because of it each year as well.
According to Dan Myers, The Daily Meal’s Senior Eat/Dine Editor, salmonella can infect “milk, eggs, poultry, and beef. Raw or undercooked eggs, raw milk, contaminated water, and raw and undercooked meats are [also] culprits, [and] it can… be transmitted by someone who doesn’t wash their hands after using the restroom; anything that they touch [can] be contaminated. Alfalfa sprouts, nuts, cucumbers, and melons are also occasionally culpable.”
With that in mind, you may be wondering which of these foods is the number one culprit behind salmonellosis. Foodsafety.gov made a chart showing salmonella by numbers, listing the symptoms of salmonella (fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea) as well as a pie chart with the most frequent causes of salmonellosis. Beef and pork are the smallest category, making up 14 percent of the chart; with poultry accounting for 19 percent; and “dairy, eggs, produce, and others” composing the final 67 percent.
A list provided by the CDC highlights reports of salmonella outbreaks since 2006. Additionally, a report by the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration discusses the most common causes of salmonella as well as other foodborne illnesses. The major culprit for salmonella poisoning: seeded vegetables. Eggs and fruits tied after vegetables. The next time you order a sandwich with sprouts, you’d be wise to make sure that they’ve been thoroughly rinsed and cleaned and that the person cleaning them is squeaky clean as well.