Salmonella spread: 7 foods most likely to cause food poisoning


Salmonella spread: 7 foods most likely to cause food poisoning

According to the CDC, an outbreak linked to onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, has resulted in more than 600 illnesses.

Experts in Canada say although the onion outbreak may be shocking to some, salmonella can affect many types of foods.

"The thing about salmonella is that it's a very potent pathogen, it can live in soil, and it can live in water for long periods," says Keith Wariner, professor in Food Science at the University of Guelph. "Once it's in the environment, it can find its way into a wide variety of foods."

Onions are grown in open fields, and there is no way to prevent all wild animals from accessing crops and water that can be used for irrigation. Farmers often take all precautions to avoid contamination, says Dr. Claudia Narvaez, assistant professor in the Department of Food and Human Nutrition Sciences at the University of Manitoba, but some bacteria may pass through the system.

"If [farmers] are taking water from rivers or lakes and other animals are coming into the river, you know that the water can be contaminated with animal feces that can remain in the water," explains Narváez.


Raw and undercooked poultry, including chicken and turkey, are at risk for salmonella infection. Experts note that breaded chicken products, such as chicken nuggets, are commonly associated with salmonella contamination because people assume they're already cooked when they buy and don't properly prepare the leftovers.


Eggs are susceptible to salmonella, and they can make you sick if you eat them raw or undercooked.

"Usually the transfer in eggs is 0.001 percent, but the problem is we eat eggs mainly raw, sunny side up and things like that. That's the risk factor," Wariner says.

fruits and vegetables

some fruits and veggies, such as leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, are known to cause food poisoning when eaten raw.

"You can cook onions, but the problem is that you often use them in salads or guacamole and don't cook them so that you don't kill [the bacteria]," 

Experts say the leading cause of product contamination occurs through water sources used for irrigation.


Various types of raw sprouts, including alfalfa and mung bean, have been linked to salmonella poisoning. The projections require water and warm conditions for the seeds to germinate, providing a suitable environment for bacteria to grow.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is another food product that can be infected with salmonella before it reaches the processing plant. Peanuts are grown underground and can be contaminated by compost, which is often used as fertilizer.

"Salmonella is strong and persistent in a drought," Wariner explains.


Fish and shellfish can also get salmonella, mainly if they are imported from places with warmer climates. Cooking raw seafood the right way is the best way to prevent food poisoning.

pet food

It's not you who can get hurt by salmonella. Experts say pet owners also need to be careful when buying pet food. Dry pet food like kibble is often heated to a high temperature that kills bacteria. However, Wariner says there have been cases where salmonella has been found in flavors that mix with food after being cooked.

How do I prevent salmonella infection?

Properly cook raw meat: When cooking chicken or any meat, be sure to cook it to the desired internal temperature. A meat thermometer is a valuable tool to ensure the meat is cooked and safe to eat.

Sanitation: Ensure that no cross-contamination is transmitted. Wash cutting boards, cookware, and hands after handling raw meat products. It is also not recommended to wash meat before cooking it.

Store food at the right temperature: When you go shopping during the hot summer months, keep a cooler in your car to avoid meat spoilage.

Watch for recalls: If you see a recall, check your pantry or refrigerator to make sure you're not consuming the product.

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