Salmonella’s really in vogue right now – by which we mean that it’s being found in an increasing number of popular foods in the US. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that there could be more cases to come, but they think they know what caused the contamination in the first place.
Along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Agriculture, and others, the FDA are investigating “possible Salmonella contamination of a whey ingredient that has caused the recall of several popular foods.”
You may have noticed the outrage that followed from the withdrawal of Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches and those goldfish crackers last week, which were taken away from your hungry tummies voluntarily by both companies. Both contained dry wheat protein that appears to have been contaminated with everyone’s favorite food poisoning bacteria, but there’s a couple more of note.
Mondelēz International Inc. (of Ritz Cracker and Bitz fame), Pepperidge Farm Inc. (of goldfish crackers fame), Pinnacle Foods Inc. (of Hungry Man Chipotle BBQ Sauced Boneless Chicken Wyngz fame), and Flowers Foods Inc. (that make Swiss Rolls and Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread fame) are companies that all use products from the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI). After AMPI noticed the bacterial contamination, they issued a recall, and these companies followed suit.
So far, according to the FDA’s list of specific, recalled produce, these are the only companies involved, but that doesn’t mean other products won’t be taken off supermarket shelves. So far, there’s no evidence anyone has been sickened by the contamination, but the FDA are acting in a way to ensure that this eventuality doesn’t come to pass.
At the same time, Gizmodo points out that not all companies that use whey protein from AMPI will follow the recall, as it depends very much on the product. Some are heat-treated, which would kill off the Salmonella long before it got to your mouths.
This particular bacterial genus is capable of making you profoundly, uncomfortably sick. For otherwise healthy people, it can give you fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and more for around a week. In some infrequent cases, it can get into your bloodstream and cause difficult-to-treat complications; if you’re very young, elderly, or medically compromised, it can be a far more serious condition.
Recently, Kelloggs voluntarily recalled their Honey Smacks cereal over the same type of bacterial contamination too, although at present, it doesn’t appear to be connected to the latest recall.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stresses that although it may appear so, there hasn't been an uptick in food contamination incidents. Instead, the FDA are getting better at detecting potential risks to food products and communicating associated hazards to the public.