Salmonella, the foodborne bacteria that cause salmonellosis infections, is most often associated in people's minds with raw eggs and undercooked chicken. It's not often associated with other foods, and that's a problem. Salmonella in chicken and eggs has not been as prevalent in the news because both industries and individual consumers took action to reduce the risk of exposure. However, salmonella remains a concern in those foods as well as in many others, such as cucumbers, which were the origin of a 2013 outbreak. Despite advances in testing suspect foods through preservation mediums such as buffered peptone water, and despite efforts to combat the bacteria, people still have to be aware and on the lookout.
It's Still Around
Salmonella still causes several widespread infections each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 1.2 million new cases are reported each year. You can find the bacteria in prepared foods, on vegetables, and even on the skin of pet reptiles. And remember that the name of the bacteria comes from its discoverer, Dr. Salmon, and not the food salmon.
Eggs Are a Concern but Not as Much as Before
Because salmonella can be transmitted to eggs through hens, and into egg whites and yolks through poor hygiene when handling the eggs, raw eggs and undercooked chicken are still somewhat risky. Many food blogs and recipe websites showcase recipes using raw or runny eggs, but the risk of salmonella is always present even though industries have been trying to control the bacteria.
Where the eggs are from, and where the other contaminated food is from, does matter to an extent. In 2016, the UK's Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food claimed that eating runny eggs was no longer a major concern for people in the UK if they were eating certain brands from the UK. However, the agency did not extend that advice to imported eggs. In the U.S., runny eggs are still considered a salmonella risk, especially for people with immune system issues or other conditions.
Playing it safe is a better bet, so cook food properly, wash produce, wash your hands with soap and water frequently, and tell your doctor if you start experiencing symptoms of food poisoning. If you have leftovers from the food that you think might have caused the illness, save them so lab techs can preserve the bacteria for testing. You can contact companies like Culture Media Concepts for more information.