How long does it take to be infected by Salmonella? Actually, there’s a better question to think about. How about, “How long does it take to be aware of Salmonella?” This is why we need Early Salmonella Detection.
Normally, identifying Salmonella can take up to three days, and the classification process can easily extend to 12. That classification is necessary to find the source of a contaminate. So, what happens during the time Salmonella spreads and we wait for the results?
Outbreak Identification Takes More Time Than a Hobbit’s Journey
If Salmonella is the villain, let’s look at what it takes for a hero to step into battle and eliminate the dangers.
First, the innocent patrons fall ill within 72 hours of exposure. They’re plagued with fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headaches while the agony continues, and that list grows longer. During this painful experience some will seek a doctor, others won’t. Now, there’s endless formal and informal reports to sift through.
Meanwhile, our metaphorical hero is twiddling his thumbs waiting to be notified of a crisis.
From there, public health surveillances provide data that seeks patterns and clusters. If there’s more cases than expected, the CDC investigates and communicates. Now, there’s pencil-pushing, mass organization, and finally, confirmation that leads to recalls.
Well, now our hero knows, but the people of the kingdom don’t. They are blindly walking into the dragon’s lair. They are eating the red onions that are infected with Salmonella.
That’s why public awareness is necessary. Even after the FDA knows of the potential danger, it takes companies an average of 57 days to recall dangerous items, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It’s safe to say, consumers have had plenty of time to be exposed to the risks at that point.
You’re under the villain’s reign. You’ll most likely be fine, but potential hospital visits and food sickness isn’t exactly what you planned to do with your weekend. However, 3,000 Americans per year aren’t just fine. In fact, they die from food borne illness complications, while 128,000 are hospitalized and suffering through the trauma of knowing that possible outcome.
Even with the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act that gave the FDA jurisdiction to issue a mandatory recall when a company fails, there’s too much time before infected food is out of your home.
Remember, During This Delay More People are Getting Sick
Our hero is overpowered, and the time it takes to slay each bad guy is growing. With all the cogs in that wheel, shaving off the time it takes to identify an infection is a vital step in fixing this problem. Early diagnostics help erect our line of defense faster. Thus, providing the opportunity to safely wait while our enemy contaminate is vanquished.
Lucky for us, when it comes to Salmonella that’s exactly what has happened. Our metaphorical hero just happens to be real life scientists.
At the Mars Global Food Safety Center in Beijing and the University of Georgia, researchers have created a brand-new practice to identify Salmonella serotypes in two to eight hours with 100 percent accuracy.
According to the study, “All 38 Salmonella strains were accurately predicted…”
That means not only is our hero prepared, he’s also got excellent aim.
Even better than that, the new method is more accessible than the conventional processes. Current testing is costly and time consuming. Simply transporting samples to a lab becomes a lengthy problem. That’s an early step to resolution that is already flush with issues. Food plants are often located in back country and are usually a great distance from the labs that have the ability to host the complicated equipment.
The new equipment is less complex, making it possible for nearby labs to carry. So, not only is the testing faster, the ability to test is as well.
If the classification process can be shortened from weeks to hours, then there’s a whole lot of consumers who can toss out the food they shouldn’t trust. That’s also a nice gap for the CDC and FDA to get to work faster.
With this new and efficient technology, our hero doesn’t have to walk to the enemy gates. He’s notified quickly and can take a plane. We’re aware faster as well. So, maybe our hero will have enough time to put his heels up and have safe snack after all the contaminations are destroyed because there won’t be as many to battle.
All this technology is helpful to prevent outbreaks in the future. However, food borne illnesses aren’t always delivered to you. Sometimes they start at home with improper food handling. So, make sure you’re following CDC guidelines on food preparations. It’s unlikely you have a hero waiting in your pantry prepared to stop you from taking that bite of undercooked poultry. You’ll have to be your own hero at home.
Keep your senses sharp and use them. If something smells off, don’t eat it. If the taste is rotten, be willing to forego niceties and toss the risky food in the garbage. Look at the expiration dates, and don’t make excuses just because you really want it. Also, please wash your produce. Think of it this way if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed:
Salmonella comes from contact with animal feces. This can be on your produce. Do you really want to eat that? I’d venture to guess, probably not. So, scrub away.
Until next time, make your food safe and watch for the recalls on what is not – and pray we get Early Salmonella Detection soon.