Technology, consumers can help contain contaminated food outbreaks

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 10:34:56-04

NEW YORK CITY – Several recent outbreaks related to contaminated food have affected dozens of people across the country but health officials say technology and consumers are helping contain these infections.

New numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 10 more cases of salmonella infections linked to pre-cut melons and 70 people in seven states have now become sick. Caito Foods recalled the fresh-cut melon products earlier this month. 

"People that are infected with salmonella will have diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps about 12 to 72 hours after they’ve eaten a contaminated food. Most people recover in about four to seven days. Other people do have a more severe illness and do require hospitalization," said Dr. Laura Gieraltowski with the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.

Another salmonella outbreak was announced last week — this one linked to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal. The CDC says new technology is helping them better detect these outbreaks and stop them.

"When people get infected with a bacteria we’re able to use this new technology to get a DNA fingerprint, and when people have the same DNA fingerprint, we’re more confident that these illnesses are related to a common food," Dr. Gieraltowski said.

While these recalls can be scary, there are things you can do to prevent foodborne illnesses at home, including looking out for recalls and tossing contaminated products.

"Also, people can, uh, help us solve outbreaks. You know, if you get food poisoning, go see your doctor. Report your illness to a health department," Dr. Gieraltowski said.

The CDC also reminds everyone to follow safe food practices, washing hands and surfaces often, cooking foods to the right temperature and refrigerating them promptly.

Click here for more information on how to report a problem and more tips on how to stay safe.