Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s the second-most common intestinal infection in the United States, infecting as many as 1.5 million people every year. More than 20,000 people are hospitalized every year, and 400 people die.
Salmonella infection usually occurs whenever a person eats food that has been contaminated with the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria. Such outbreaks are usually associated with raw milk, raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs.
In recent years, many other types of foods have become increasingly associated with salmonella outbreaks. Due to issues having to do with food handling and cross-contamination, they are increasingly being associated with other foods such as fruits and vegetables. Salmonella often comes from inadequate food handling safety processes.
The most common form of salmonella infection is known as non-typhoidal salmonella. Someone contracting this type of salmonella infection will usually experience relatively minor gastronomical distress and perhaps a headache. In most cases, such discomfort will be felt for 3-7 days, and simply go away.
But many salmonella infections can lead to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, body aches, severe dehydration and more, especially among small children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune symptoms. In some exceptional cases, victims will see symptoms such as reactive arthritis, which leads to joint swelling, while others may experience swelling in the eyes or urinary or reproductive organs. In some extreme cases, it’s possible to contract typhoidal salmonella, which can lead to typhoid fever.
While those salmonella contamination victims who see minor symptoms won’t need any sort of treatment, those with more serious symptoms may need extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization or, in some extreme cases, long term medical care.
Common Contaminated Foods
There are significant reasons why some foods seem more likely to be contaminated than others. Here are the foods that seem to be cited most often cited in outbreaks:
While many people think uncooked flour is harmless until it’s mixed with something else, especially raw eggs, which is widely believed to be the most dangerous food out there, but the reality is something else entirely. In fact, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, from late 2015 to late 2016, 56 people in 24 states developed an E. coli infection after they consumed raw or uncooked flour. In a great many cases, they consumed it unintentionally. Many were contaminated because they got uncooked flour on their hands and simply failed to wash their hands.
Eating raw oysters is one of the most common causes outbreaks anywhere, and the problem seems to be getting worse. Some sources report that more foodborne illnesses have been related to raw oysters and other shellfish in the last five years ago than in the previous 20 years. It is believed the reason for this is because waters are warming, and as global waters heat up, there is increased growth in the microbes that cause such foodborne illness. Those microbes end up in raw oysters, and consumers eat the without knowing.
Meat that is not cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees is a common source of foodborne bacteria and illness. The 160 degrees is required to kill most bacteria, which is why more people are ordering their steaks well-done and why they are grilling them longer. Rare or medium-rare is potentially dangerous.
As noted, this is the one almost everyone knows, or thinks they know. That is because of a huge outbreak in the late 1980s and the early 1990s and people learned a lot from that. Due to the increased use of sterilization, however, the chance of contracting food poisoning from raw eggs is far less today than it was 20 years ago. It’s important to know that doesn’t mean the chances are non-existent, of course; just a couple months ago, the FDA announced the recall of 206 million raw eggs based on their concern over Salmonella contamination.
Raw (Unpasteurized) Milk and Fruit Juices
A while back, there was a movement afoot to encourage people to drink “raw” milk and juices because they were supposedly “healthier.” The argument was that pasteurization reduces the nutritional value of both. There is nothing unhealthy about pasteurization, but raw milk and raw juices are considered “raw” because they skip the one safety step of severely reducing the risk of contamination by pathogens, like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. “Raw” beverage products essentially trade out the safety measure designed to reduce the risk of illness based on perceived better health effects.
Unfortunately, the number of sprout-related foodborne illness outbreaks are all too common, with more than 30 bacterial outbreaks over the past 20 years, mostly related to salmonella and E. coli. The FDA and the CDC have stepped up inspections and oversight of raw sprouts as a result of the increased risk.
Contact our Attorney
If you suspect you or someone you love may have contracted a salmonella infection, seek medical attention immediately. If you believe contaminated food caused your salmonella infection, you may be entitled to compensation for your illness. The San Antonio personal injury attorney at Hill Law Firm has experience taking on some of the largest companies in the United States in foodborne illnesses cases. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by food contamination, please call our Texas Food Poisoning Injury Lawyers immediately. It is important to act quickly to preserve evidence and your rights.