Salmonella outbreak has recently sickened more than 150 people across the country. Health officials have been investigating the cause and speculating the link of Mexican restaurant chain “Taco Bell” with the recent outbreak. However investigators have not nailed down the exact food responsible for the outbreak. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States.
What is Salmonellosis?
Salmonellosis is an infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, however, most people recover without treatment. Infants, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others, to develop severe illness.
Recent salmonella outbreak
CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) have found two multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections, each involving a different Salmonella serotype: Hartford and Baildon. Both of these Salmonella serotypes are rare, and ill persons in both outbreaks have a similar age and geographic distribution.
Health officials found that these two separate outbreaks have been associated with food from Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain, which they called- “Restaurant A”. William E. Keene, senior epidemiologist for the state of Oregon and an investigator on the case, confirmed that the chain was Taco Bell.
The FDA sampled and tested the products from Taco Bell, but did not find any outbreak bacterial strain. Epidemiologists suspected that lettuce, tomatoes or both might be a potential culprit. Although they were not 100% sure, but they said that Lettuce and tomatoes have been...
involved in a number of salmonella outbreaks in the past — not because they’re inherently risky — but because they′re popular food items that are often eaten raw.
In response to investigation, Taco Bell′s chief quality assurance officer said “we take safety very seriously and our food is perfectly safe to eat so our customers have absolutely no cause for concern”.
CDC advice to Consumers
- At this time, consumers are not being advised to avoid eating any specific food or to avoid eating at any specific restaurant.
- If a food source is identified for these outbreaks and if there is evidence of continued risk of infection, public health officials will advise the public and take the necessary steps to avoid risk of additional illnesses.
There is no vaccine to prevent Salmonellosis. So the best way to prevent the outbreak is to avoid eating raw or undercooked vegetables, eggs, poultry, or meat. Persons also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products.