dear cdc, i’m pretty sure that salsa and its inability to poop is not the problem.


Earlier this evening, I came across a link on my friend Ben’s facebook page. It was an article reporting about the CDC’s recent press release on foodborne illnesses caused by salsa and guacamole. What foodborne illness, you ask? Good question. The article didn’t say. Nor did the actual press release from the CDC.

Geez….way to cook up a scare guys.

A quick google search of {cdc + salsa} gave me over a million hits with headlines screaming about the dangers of salsa and guacamole. Each one scarier than the next. According to The Baltimore Sun, salsa and guacamole are now the “leading causes of food-borne illness”.

Leading causes? Umm, OK…time-out.

First of all, I can see where the confusion comes from. The CDC forgot to mention that the main foodborne illness wreaking havoc is salmonella. They also stayed vague on how the contamination happens in the first place.

Here is the part where I pass on the tidbit from the CDC (in their pet section of all places) about salmonella:

Salmonella is transmitted from animals to humans and humans to humans by the fecal oral route.  Salmonella can be passed from one person to another through poor hygiene.  Salmonella can be passed from one person to another by not properly washing hands after using the bathroom or after changing a diaper. 

The press release  insinuates, that because the ingredients are uncooked, they grow these pathogens by themselves.

Inappropriate storage times or temperatures were reported in 30 percent of the SGA outbreaks in restaurants or delis and may have contributed to the outbreaks. Food workers were reported as the source of contamination in 20 percent of the restaurant outbreaks.

Possible reasons salsa and guacamole can pose a risk for foodborne illness is that they may not be refrigerated appropriately and are often made in large batches so even a small amount of contamination can affect many customers.

Seriously? What about the main reason? It ain’t the storage issue we need to be worried about. How do you think that inital 30 percent got contaminated anyway?  Produce doesn’t have its own fecal matter to pass on…I suppose due to its lack of digestive tract. It is because the person making the salsa didn’t wash the produce properly. It is because he cut the produce on the same surface he cut a raw chicken. Or worse, it is because the guy didn’t wash his hands after he took a dump… and right before he made that salsa. Just sayin’.

More *likely* possible reasons? Contaminated water sources near the crops can cause salmonella. So can using fertilizers with animal feces. Growing produce in close proximity to pastures with livestock wading in their own filth is a sure-fire way to get it.  

How about not putting the blame the uncooked fruits and vegetables and causing mass hysteria? Perhaps remember they are a product of their environment?

So, with that being said…no, Ben, salsa will not kill you. However, having the mindset that raw fruits and vegetables are deadly; and properly stored fecal-containing foods aren’t…just might.

The press release also suggests:

“Awareness that salsa and guacamole can transmit foodborne illness, particularly in restaurants, is key to preventing future outbreaks.”

Yeah, that’s the key.

Go local, folks.


4 Comments to “dear cdc, i’m pretty sure that salsa and its inability to poop is not the problem.”

  1. Bonjour tout d’abord bravo pour votre site que j’ai parcouru avec plaisir. cet article a retenu tout mon attention car je le trouve bien r�dig� et tres int�ressant. d’habitude je ne commente pas les sites mais aujourd’hui je prends quelques instants pour le faire. Je vous contacterais pour faire un �change de lien avec mon propre site. En esp�rant vous lire bientot.

  2. Another reason to hang out at the Farmer’s Market…as if we needed one! Great info.

  3. That’s the irony with salad bars. The contents are theoretically beneficial. But the handling of the contents, not necessarily by the kitchen staff, but by the other customers, makes salad bars a food poisoning paradise.
    Same with bowls of peanuts in bars.

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