What happens when you put nutella on Salmon?
You get Salmonella!
...but seriously, lets talk about Salmonella!
Salmonella family consists of only two species although what it lacks in species diversity it more than makes up for in its diversity of thousands of serovars. The two species of Salmonella are Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori.
- bongori is rarely associated with human illness and is mostly prevalent in cold-blooded animals like reptiles.
- enterica is the human pathogenic species and is further divided into six subspecies that include over 2,600 serotypes.
What the heck is a serotype?
A serovar or a serotype/serogroup are terms describing the cell surface, more specifically the antigens or molecular structures present on the cell surface. Serotypes are used to describe different kinds of Salmonella based on those antigens on the cell surface. When discussing Salmonella types, the nomenclature can be confusing to those who aren’t familiar with microbiology, it’s hard to know what you’re looking at when seeing a report that discusses Genus, species, subspecies, and serotype.
For example if you receive a report that states: “bacteria identified as: Salmonella enterica subsp enterica serotype typhimurium."
Although that nomenclature can seem complex, it can be broken down and is often more simply abbreviated as genus and serotype, Salmonella typhimurium. And typhimurium refers to the serotype corresponding to the antigens (or structures) present on the Salmonella cell surface. And there are over 2,600 different types of serovars!
Although a lot of the industry focus is surrounding Listeria, Salmonella is still a very prevalent and dangerous pathogen. Recalls, outbreaks, and illnesses associated with Salmonella have been estimated to cost the food industry BILLIONS of dollars.
Salmonella contamination within food products can cause food poisoning called Salmonellosis. Tens of millions of cases of Salmonella food poisoning are reported around the world every year. In severe cases, hospitalization may be needed although most individuals are able to recover at home within a few days.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of people, animals and more specifically birds. Most people get infected by Salmonella from eating foods that have been contaminated by feces.
Growth Conditions: Salmonella can grow in temperatures ranging from 43 degrees F up to 115 degrees F (optimum temperature is 98.6 F). If that optimum temperature sounds familiar, it should! Salmonella’s optimal temperature of 98.6 is the average temperature of the human body. Other growth conditions include a pH range between 4.1 and 9.0. For good growth to occur, Salmonella likes moist environments; however Salmonella can persist within dry environments and dry products, like whey powders, nuts and nut butters.
Salmonella in food product: Salmonella is widely recognized as potentially being present in eggs and egg products. Poultry may carry Salmonella bacteria and can contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are even formed, and that’s no yolk (read: joke)! However Salmonella is much more widespread than just eggs, it has been a prevalent problem within industry for years. Salmonella can be found in dairy products such as milk, butters, cheeses, etc., and other recent outbreaks have been associated with even low-moisture foods (such as peanut butter, spices, and powdered milk). Typically, low-water activity in food creates an environment that is not suitable for pathogens to grow, however Salmonella can survive in these low moisture products. For contaminated food products, it is important to not only think about the root causation and initial contaminated product, but if your product is an ingredient it is also important to consider the subsequent products it may have been used in. Salmonella contamination has been known to be introduced into a final product as a result of contaminated dry raw ingredients that were previously thought of as “safe.”
Salmonella in your environment: Salmonella can persist in water, soil, and on surfaces; it can survive for at least a year in soil, from weeks to months in water and plants, and up to a month in manure after it is spread into the environment. Salmonella can enter aquatic systems through treated and untreated sewage as well as urban and agricultural run-off. Contamination hot-spots in plant environments can typically be found along food production lines and can be linked to inadequate sanitation, poor equipment design, lack of proper maintenance, or inadequate GMPs.