Study: Salsa, guacamole pose food safety risks

03/11/2013 04:37:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Fresh salsa and guacamole can pose significant food safety risks, according to a new study.

Because they often contain diced raw produce, are often made in large batches and are often poorly refrigerated, fresh salsa and guacamole can be prone to contamination that can cause foodborne illness, according to a study published in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.

“The safety of salsa and guacamole is increasingly important as these foods gain popularity,” according to the study. “Fresh salsa and guacamole require careful preparation and storage.”

The study’s authors reviewed all reports of food safety outbreaks between 1973 and 2008 involving salsa or guacamole.

They turned up 136 outbreaks in which salsa or guacamole was reported as a possible vehicle. Those outbreaks resulted in 5,658 illnesses.

About 24% of the outbreaks were caused by norovirus and 19% by salmonella. Eighty-four percent of the outbreaks were caused by foods prepared in restaurants or delis. Of those, 19% reported ill workers, and 29% improper storage, as possible causes of the outbreaks.



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Fernando de Saracho jr.    
Nogales Az  |  March, 12, 2013 at 09:22 AM

don't want to sound like as smart a, but in regards to what was written by Andy and many other Food-borne illnesses I ask: What ever happened to common sense? washing fruits and veggies before eating them? washing cutting boards and knifes, bowls etc .. . everything that comes in contact with your body poses a potential risk if not properly washed and taken care of as one should. Salsa and Guacamole for as long as I have known them, are made fresh to eat on spot. In the 70's I remember a big simple campaign that explicitly included the words 'wash your fruits and vegetables' We need that common sense back.

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, KS  |  March, 12, 2013 at 01:38 PM

Fernando, I have to agree with you on many counts. My favorite example of this: We did a story in 2000 about a study that placed cameras in kitchens. The families weren't told it was to study food safety. There were a lot of "infractions," but the memorable one was a cook that tasted marinade that raw fish was soaking in. But: In many cases, the studies we write about concern cases that the CDC/FDA report on, and that means large-scale outbreaks/recalls that originate at the grower/shipper/processor stage. It's just the nature of foodborne illness: Food safety lapses at the consumer level are rarely reported to health agencies. That doesn't make in-home illnesses (and their causes) any less important, but if the studies we're writing about don't concern those cases ... we don't write about them. We have covered consumer/foodservice food safety programs, from Fight Bac! to NRA's ServSafe. Chris Koger News Editor

Packer reader    
U.S.  |  March, 12, 2013 at 09:41 AM

Has the linked to study in this article been updated? These stats look very similar to a study that was published in Summer 2010 and covered by Food Safety News and other outlets. Just curious about any new information being made available. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/07/salsa-and-guacamole-common-causes-of-food-poisoning-study-finds/

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, KS  |  March, 12, 2013 at 01:14 PM

Packer reader, You have a better memory than I do. Many times when we cover studies, they cover dated material but are newly published, like this one. Don't know why it's being published almost 3 years after it was first presented. Here's The Packer's coverage when the study was made public: http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/foodservice/salsa_guacamole_food_safety_outbreaks_on_the_rise_122002114.html Chris Koger News Editor

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