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Is salmonella going to get me?

Updated on June 18, 2011


Is salmonella going to get you? The only straight up answer is one that appears wishy-washy and that is maybe. The recent outbreaks of salmonella infection in tomatoes and other products across the United States have many people asking this question.

There are ways that you can improve your odds and protect yourself but first let's take a look at what salmonella is.

Salmonella is a bacterium that is found occurring naturally in the intestines of animals, (especially poultry and swine), birds, reptiles, some pets and some humans. It also can be found in the environment. If you consume food that is contaminated by Salmonella you can become ill with salmonellosis.

Okay now you know what it is, what can you do to prevent getting it?

Basic hygiene will help with food preparation, washing your hands and your food when you bring it home. Keeping the food preparation area clean will help.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you wash the food, for example, tomatoes, you are not going to get rid of the infection because it has gone through the skin of the fruit and is now inside. No matter how hard you scrub it will still be there.

Hygiene helps but is not foolproof.

The most effective way to prevent infection is to not consume the infected item in the first place; sound obvious, but how do you do that?

You can subscribe to email alerts from either the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Canadian Food Inspections Agency (CFIA), or both, I do both. It gives you a wider range of information and food crosses borders.

You will get an email whenever either agency sends out an alert. The only trouble with this is that in many cases the food is already in the market place when the alert goes out. It is still faster than waiting for the news, though.

The most effective means to prevent you and your family from consuming foods that have been contaminated by salmonella is to buy in-season local produce and to buy from a local grower as often as possible.

The most effective way to protect yourself from salmonella and keep it from getting you is to grow it yourself. Now this will be a problem for many people and they will need to find other ways to obtain fresh food.

One is to grow it in a community garden; others are to buy direct from the local grower through a community sponsored agriculture project, a farmers’ market or farm gate sales.

When you either grow it yourself or buy direct from a farmer, with whom you have developed an ongoing relationship, you become familiar with how the food was grown and how it traveled from where is was grown to where you bought it.

This familiarity may be you best protection.

So will salmonella get you, well the answer is, unfortunately, still maybe, but you can significantly reduce the chances that it will do so by following the words that are laid out in this hub and the links within.

eating seasonal


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by Helen and for your emphasis on the importance of hand washing, it should be obvious that clean hands make a difference but it seems that that is just not so.

  • profile image

    Helen 9 years ago

    Thanx Bob for this great article. You appear to have covered all the bases. Even down to the most important and simplest action everyone should take, and that all healthcare professionals know is fundamental to quality medical and nursing care, to prevent infections of ALL kinds. WASH YOUR HANDS...BEFORE AND AFTER WHATEVER IT IS YOU ARE ABOUT TO DO...AND WHATEVER IT IS YOU ARE FINISHED DOING. (This is a key message missing from public health announcements about everything from flu to methicillin-resistant staph aureus.) Thanks for including it in this important article of yours. -Helen (a.k.a. Creativita)

  • marisuewrites profile image

    marisuewrites 9 years ago from USA

    Excellent info and advice, as usual Bob!  You have become a reliable source of common sense and self-defense - we are finding out that our food source is not reliably safe.   For many years in our life, we had a garden, tho' not so the last 10 years.  I'm craving it again! 

    We have grown our own tomatoes and peppers this year and it is a joy.  As you advised, we frequent a local fruit stand and have been happy with their produce. 

    I hope we all become more self-reliant, digging up those yards as you have stated in previous hubs, and planting food!  It can be done attractively, and what better project? 

    I always enjoy reading your articles. =)

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for the kind words and thanks for stopping by.

  • Dottie1 profile image

    Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

    Thanks for bringing this piece to us about Salmonella. We all need to stay knowledgeable and you help us to that.

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    Great information, something we all need to be careful with. And I believe we do take chances with our lives when eating out. And yes at home too, if not very careful.

    Great helpful hub

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks ProCW, glad this helped.

  • ProCW profile image

    ProCW 9 years ago from South Carolina

    :) Great hub, Bob! I asked and you answered! :) Salmonella definately is a long-time concern, but with the recent outbreaks, it the cause of much confusion. Thanks for helping us understand salmonella better!


  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks Katherine for dropping by and you are right ask the produce manager where the food comes from and state your preference for local.

  • Katherine Baldwin profile image

    Katherine Baldwin 9 years ago from South Carolina

    Super info, Bob. Everyone needs to educate themselves regarding how to select the best foods available. You're right - local is the best way to go. Just because a grocery store offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables doesn't mean you should buy them. Very few grocers use locally grown produce anymore. Check the labels, ask the produce manager where the produce came from. We are very lucky in that we have a local vegetable stand that is open pretty much all year. They bring fresh produce in from Florida twice a week and we've never had a bad experience. Makes you wonder why cucumbers from the grocery store last only a few days in the refrigerator and the ones from our local vegetable stand will last for two weeks or more. I don't wonder. My day job takes me into every type of manufacturing and distribution facility under the sun. I've seen the good, the bad and the REALLY ugly. Just educate yourself - it's your best defense. Also, great tip on the .gov sites. We're paying for them and everyone should use them.