Salmonella scares roil consumers

Apr 2, 2009

Even though Salmonella scares are reverberating in the news media, UC Davis Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Linda Harris says that, overall, the nation's food supply is safe.

Comments from Harris, a food-safety microbiologist at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis, appeared in a story by Barbara Anderson in today's Fresno Bee.

"I would hate for consumers to approach the grocery store with trepidation," Harris was quoted in a story published today. Most of the food in grocery stores, she told the reporter, has been processed in some way that reduces or eliminates Salmonella, she said.

However, the story outlined how easily Salmonella bacteria can makes their way into the food chain. The bacteria flourish in soil and water and can survive in a dry environment. They can be on almost any food, and just a few bacteria can make someone ill. Salmonella is the most common cause of foodborne illnesses nationwide, but it is still relatively rare.

It is now easier for health investigators to recognize a salmonella outbreak because of advances in DNA technology.

"We have better methods to tease out outbreaks that previously would have gone unrecognized," Harris was quoted.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist