Foodborne pathogens are not only dangerous for individuals but can also be devastating to a brand in the event of a product recall. Understanding some of the most common bacteria and how to avoid spreading them is critical, especially for people who handle and process food. These Salmonella facts are a great starting point for anybody working in a food processing environment.
What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella is the name for a group of bacteria, including the species Salmonella enterica, which can cause an illness called salmonellosis. They are rod-shaped, Gram-negative bacteria that are found both in animals and in the environment throughout the world.
Health Effects of Salmonella
People who have been exposed to Salmonella may experience gastrointestinal illness and fever for up to a week. These symptoms can be particularly dangerous for at-risk populations such as young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. The CDC reports an estimated 450 deaths, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 1.2 million illnesses caused by Salmonella each year, the majority of which are related to food contamination.
Common Salmonella Food Sources
According to the FDA, Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to contaminated food sources including:
- Fresh produce
- Tahini and nut butters
- Frozen seafood
- Pasta salad
- Meat and poultry products
Because it can be found in such a wide variety of foods, Salmonella prevention is key in any type of food processing facility. Pets can also spread Salmonella, so it’s a good idea to wash your hands after interacting with them.
Tips for Salmonella Prevention
Salmonella can be killed by cooking and pasteurization, but because it is also found in foods that are consumed raw, additional preventive measures should be taken. Although properly cooking food is important, consumers and commercial food preparers can also avoid Salmonella infections by regularly washing their hands and using good food safety practices to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen.
In a food processing environment, Salmonella can be prevented through daily sanitation procedures that lower the bacteria to safe levels. This includes cleaning and sanitizing equipment, food handling surfaces, utensils, floors, walls, and ceilings to ensure that bacteria don’t have the opportunity to grow and spread to other areas.
Food handling personnel should also be trained on best practices for avoiding cross-contamination, including cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and utensils, washing hands, having a clear separation between clean and dirty areas, and not handling cooked foods in areas where raw foods have been unless they have been sanitized.
Tips for Decontaminating Salmonella
While daily cleaning is most effective, if a Salmonella outbreak does occur, deep cleaning may be required to achieve a 5-log reduction that removes 99.999 percent of the bacteria present. When decontaminating, it’s a good idea to test surfaces both before and after the procedure to verify that the desired level of reduction was achieved.
Deep cleaning requires the use of a disinfectant that is capable of killing Salmonella and addressing biofilms that may have formed if surfaces have not been regularly sanitized. Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacteria that form in a cellular matrix and often cannot be removed without the use of mechanical action, which is why avoiding them in the first place is ideal. When deep cleaning a facility, equipment should be dismantled so the individual components can be treated and interior surfaces can be reached. Moving equipment around to access the spaces behind and between it will also be necessary to remove bacteria from every surface. Drains are also a place where bacteria can thrive, so include these in both deep cleaning and daily sanitation protocols.
Use D7 to Prevent and Kill Salmonella
D7 is an innovative sanitizer, entryway foamer, and disinfectant that allows food processors to destroy Salmonella and certain types of biofilms without the use of mechanical action. An easy-to-apply foam clings to surfaces, including vertical and overhead ones, to ensure that the product stays on for the minimum recommended contact time. After a potable water rinse, bacteria on surfaces will be reduced to safe levels. Because it requires less manpower than other products, D7 can be integrated into daily sanitation protocols to help prevent the growth of Salmonella and other bacteria and the development of biofilms through chemical reduction.