The types of food most often involved in salmonella outbreaks (when there are 2 or more cases of salmonellosis with the same source of infection) are raw or undercooked products from animal sources, such as beef, poultry, eggs, and milk. Fruits and vegetables such as alfalfa and bean sprouts, cantaloupe, and tomatoes have also been associated with salmonella outbreaks.
In addition, there have been cases of salmonellosis associated with unpasteurized fruit juice and cider, and unpasteurized dairy products. However, salmonella contamination is not limited to these food items. Any food can become contaminated with salmonella.
Food contamination can occur at any point in the farming, distribution, and food preparation process. Food can become contaminated through the water that is used to grow and process fresh produce. Soiled equipment can also be a source of bacteria.
An important source of food contamination is failure to follow good food handling practices. This can include habits such as not washing hands after handling raw meat, using the washroom, or coming in contact with an animal carrying the bacteria. Improperly cleaning work areas and utensils involved in food preparation, and eating food that has not been thoroughly washed and cooked can also contribute to the spread of salmonella and increase your chances of infection.
Because there are many possible points at which food contamination can occur, it is often difficult to determine the exact source of an outbreak.
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