Food Safety Indicators Beyond Salmonella in Poultry

What is Salmonella? What is Salmonellosis?

Salmonella is a bacteria that makes people sick; the bacteria lives in the intestines of infected humans and animals. Most hosts of the bacteria become infected by eating or drinking from a contaminated source, or by touching a different host of the Salmonella bacteria, such as another animal or its feces. Salmonellosis refers to the most common illness that results from Salmonella infection, which often presents with severe gastrointestinal distress symptoms of diarrhea and stomach cramping, along with a fever or achiness. Salmonellosis can be diagnosed through a laboratory test of bodily tissue, fluids, or excretion, and while many individuals can recover without medical intervention, some immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk populations are prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Why is Salmonella Used in Food Safety Measurement?

Salmonella infections, including but not limited to salmonellosis, can often be transmitted to humans via an infected animal or improperly prepared food. The Mayo Clinic notes that the transmission from food is concentrated in the meat, poultry, and eggs category, as raw or undercooked versions of these products can put the consumer at risk for a Salmonella infection. Thus, it’s important for individual consumers to make sure that they’re following the CDC’s guidelines for food preparation, but it’s also the onus of food production facility managers to ensure that the proper hygienic guidelines are being followed on their farms and in their factories.

What Else Can be Used to Measure Poultry Health?

Thomas Oscar, USDA Research Food Technologist, published a piece in 2020 titled “Salmonella Prevalence Alone Is Not a Good Indicator of Poultry Food Safety”, which illustrates some important risks beyond Salmonella bacteria in predicting risk of salmonellosis. In this piece, Oscar takes a more holistic approach to understanding salmonellosis risk in ground turkey. He simulated Salmonella virulence in a model based on human outbreak and feeding trial data, and he found that other risk factors must be accounted for when trying to protect the public from foodborne pathogens like Salmonella. He found that the actual number of Salmonella bacteria present in a facility didn’t paint the whole picture for the eventual consumers’ risk of contracting salmonellosis, but that every step of the process from packaging to distribution to cooking is vital in preventing the foodborne illness. Other indicators of hygiene and safety throughout the process must be routinely examined for contamination, whether this is ensuring safety in grinding at the processing plant or decontaminating upon retail transport before retail storage. The Oscar (2020) piece ultimately argues that rigorous, routine hygienic practices at every step of the food processing plant are vital to ensuring that the consumers don’t contract salmonellosis; it’s not enough to simply test for Salmonella bacteria before packaging the poultry products.

How Can Food Processing Managers Ensure Safe Processes?

Food processing facility managers can employ chlorine dioxide, a gentle yet powerful disinfectant, throughout their poultry preparation process in order to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. The video below quickly teases the work of PureLine, an industry-leading team of chlorine dioxide experts, at a bovine facility. To learn more about how PureLine can help your facility eliminate Salmonella and prevent salmonellosis at every stage of production, fill out the form below and a representative will promptly be in touch.