December 4th, 2013
12:15 PM ET
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Salmonella causes an estimated 1.3 million illnesses each year in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service hopes to tackle that toll with the help of a new "Salmonella Action Plan."

The ten-point strategy, announced Wednesday, outlines the steps the agency will take to address issues in meat and poultry production, which it considers "the most pressing problem it faces."

About 48 million people contract some form of food poisoning each year, according to the CDC, and salmonella is the leading cause of foodborne illness.

The plan will empower food safety officials to combat that by focusing on several areas of improvement, including a modernization of poultry slaughter, better guidelines for inspectors to assess in-plant conditions and keep track of disease prevention standards from farm to table and and increase of food testing procedures.

The plan also prioritizes identifying best practices for "pre-harvest" poultry and beef farming as well as improved public outreach and education on the importance of food safety. FSIS said in a statement that focusing inspectors’ duties solely on food safety, at least 5,000 illnesses can be prevented each year.

The strategy was developed after a two-year study of the causality and frequency of salmonella contamination, followed by a series of agency teleconferences and an interactive blog with participation by FSIS personnel throughout the agency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains. These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond, and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.

In children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune symptoms, salmonellosis may lead to severe illness or even death.

Who is looking out for your food safety?
Salmonella outbreak linked to tainted chicken
Food poisoning: What you need to know

More on food poisoning from CNN Health and all food-borne illness coverage on Eatocracy

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Filed under: Food Safety • Health News • Salmonella • Tainted Food

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Mr. T

    "I pity the fool that gives me Salmonella!"

    December 5, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  2. wmv

    A more in depth involvement of the USDA. I shop and eat local as much as possible but I suspect my local farmers better break out the vaseline and roll over. Let's make way for big agriculture.

    December 5, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  3. :O !

    Cuz we have pigs working with and around our food

    December 5, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • jdoe

      Nobody's stopping you from a career in food processing.

      December 5, 2013 at 2:00 am |
  4. SixDegrees

    "at least 5,000 illnesses can be prevented each year. "

    Out of 1.3 million. That's less than a half-percent reduction. Following an enormous increase in regulations and inspections, costing god knows how much.

    It would be nice to get a better return on investment. Maybe consider that chickens are jammed cheek by jowl in far higher densities than occur in nature, and as a result are sprayed more or less continuously with a fine mist and gobbets of chicken dung, and that's where the salmonella contamination comes from. Ducks are raised in far less dense, more natural environments, and you can eat duck meat rare, without worrying about salmonella. It's all about how they're cultured.

    December 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  5. pm ohio

    This is what you get when the "no new taxes", cut everything by 20% accross the board, de-regulating Tea Party has it's way. No new taxes means, lower performing schools, less services and higher means less red tape for business but more disease and overall cost to the economy. De-regulation in Texas means exploding refineries, in other parts of the country, less FDA inspections...and we all know big business is looking out for us, right? Our rivers and streams and lakes are just now recovering from the de-regulated past.

    December 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • k

      So the USDA is responsible for stopping salmonella in the first place (having failed at it for decades) and your answer is more and more USDA! Time to recognize failure.

      Gov't isn't the answer, it's the problem

      December 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
      • bibleverse1

        Ineffective government and wasteful government is the problem.

        December 4, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  6. Aeon the Terrible

    If and when there is actual research, of the immunity of animals and humans, then the pathogens will continue to be a problem. When you have an entire Industry, regulatory agencies, and associations actually believe that cattle need a thick hair coat to stay warm, then the hope of a solution in the microbial arena is a fantasy!

    December 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  7. Guest

    Stop putting GMO's in our food with those bacteria’s genes! Then we'll stop getting sick!!!!

    December 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Jon

      There is no possible way you are getting food poisoning because some GMO's have bacterial genes.

      December 5, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  8. Eric

    For those of you who want to tough it out with e-coli, think again. e-coli poisoning causes something called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Look it up. It requires 3-4 total plasma replacements to prevent kidney and liver failure. That's 60 pints of many other people's plasma. Think of the HIV or Hepatitis that could be in that many plasma units.
    So go ahead and be all high and mighty, until it hits you or your family.

    December 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  9. Eric

    Irradiation would prevent the illness, extend the life of the food (read cheaper) and keep people from doing stupid stuff. BTW, washing your poultry is a VERY bad idea. It spreads the bacteria to new places in the meat and ups your chances of getting sick.
    And I would eat the food after it was irradiated. And I would enjoy it.

    December 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Leslie Anne

    I don't want irradiated food. I want pure raw food. If it's occasionally/unfortunately got e-coli or samonella contamination, my body will just have to fight it off. It builds character :)

    December 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • SteveInMN

      Anything grown on earth is mildly irradiated.

      Anything you take out of the microwave is HIGHLY irradiated.

      Its not as if you hold a Geiger up to irradiated food and it goes wild. Irrational fear.

      December 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • RadioDude

        Microwave ovens do not use radioactivity. They use radio-frequency energy. There is an important difference – you can use a Geiger counter on the food immediately after it comes out of the microwave and see no increase in the decay of radioactive isotopes (meaning the Geiger counter won't click more after using the microwave).

        December 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • SixDegrees

          The same is true for irradiated foods. There's no residual radiation imparted to the food.

          December 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • situationalawareness

          This is a distinction that most people are missing when comparing irradiated food with microwaved food. Forget the amount of detectable radiation afterwards, it was irradiated and mutation occurs by nature afterwards. Anyone who says anything different is either nitpicking or doesn't understand biological processes of any living thing (human or plant)

          December 4, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  11. DL

    Silly liberals. The USDA is a socialist Govt program bent on wasting public funds for supposed 'public health'. Their unecessary food processing regulations kill jobs which are for more important than the people who die from contaminated food.
    [sacr off]

    December 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • pm ohio

      Ignorance is bliss DL. Your post gets the idiot of the day lable! Businesses are out to make profit for thier shareholders...period. Government oversight is needed or we would have already polluted our air and water so bad, we'd be extinct otherwise. Please don't vote.

      December 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  12. KCJ

    Irradiate , irradiate , irradiate !! I don't know what the big deal is about a problem that has a simple solution and does not get implemented due to mere ignorance and fear mongering .

    December 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • aubrie

      then YOU eat it....

      December 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Organic1

    If the USDA was anything more than some retirement cruise for those that have ag degrees, then the rest of us might have a chance of being protected.

    December 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Christopher Caler

    I would like for you to post a correction please on the E. coli section, picture 5, "prevention section". It is not considered a safe practice to cook ground beef "until no pink shows in the center". The FDA food code directs that only temperature readings can be used to gauge when a food has reached its proper sanitization temperature and not visual inspection. There are multiple reasons for this, but here are the two most salient ones: first, visual identification of coloring shades to determine whether a food has been safely cooked is subjective and thus not reliably accurate; second, and more importantly, cooked ground beef with a pink center can actually reach 160°F while ground beef can turn brown while cooking, but not reach 160°F. Check here for a detailed explanation as to why:

    Also, you have a responsibility as an organization promoting education information for the masses to research and fact check those materials. We know you are not scientists usually, quite understandable, but it would behoove you nonetheless to vet materials with large public health implications through the professionals who study, write, and enforce this information so that misinformation and anecdotes are not published as guidance. Be more careful.

    December 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  15. Fish

    I just had an incident of suspected food borne illness from some flavored crackers from Thanksgiving. It seems they keep slipping fake fat into their processes without my noticing!!! Makes me sick as a dog whenever they do that as my body cannot handle fake food or processed anything!!! Why can't we stick with the real McCoy's???

    December 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  16. rad666

    Just wait until China gets control of America's food chain.

    Poison Americans and take over.

    December 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • pm ohio

      Yeah, because China has so much aerable land to farm? They can't feed themselves, let alone participate in some grandious scheme to poison our food supply. They get a lot of food to feed thier billion people from the US and Africa...not the other way around.

      December 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • wadej420

      we don't need china we have contaminated and poisoned our own food supply, thank you factory farming and monsanto,dow ,dupont.ect.....

      December 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  17. George P. Burdell

    Don't want to get salmonella? Cook your food and wash your hands.

    December 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Leslie Anne

      The health benefits of raw food override my concern of the occasional bout of e-coli or salmonella. I feel so much better now that I eat about 80% of my food raw, I'll chance the occasional illness and my body will just have to fight it off.

      December 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Cathy

      I got salmonella from Arby's horseradish sauce. Cooking isn't the only issue.

      December 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  18. JOhn832

    Or you could just irradiate everything after packing and not worry what happened in any steps leading up to that point.

    December 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
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