Salmonella in food production

Salmonella is a genus of bacteria that live naturally in the environment, and scientists work hard to protect animals from the disease.

One reason scientists what to protect animals from Salmonella is that even infections withoutSalmonella bacteria noticeable symptoms, called “sub-clinical” infections, can hurt swine production. An infected animal may look normal, but fighting off an infection takes energy. Studies show that swine with subclinical infections do not gain body weight as quickly as uninfected swine. Lower body weight means less meat produced for human consumption.

A second reason to study animal diseases is the need to protect human health. Pathogens like Salmonella can have devastating effects on human health.

Animal producers work to prevent Salmonella in herds, and food producers take specific, government-mandated steps to keep meat, milk and eggs safe. But sometimes, contamination reaches the public. According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, Salmonella infections were the cause of 62 percent of hospitalizations due to food-borne illness in 2008.  On average, one million people are affected with Salmonella every year, while of those 19,000 were hospitalized. Every year 380 people die from Salmonella across the world.

Officials tell consumers to wash their hands and cook food thoroughly. Food safety experts agree, and many say it is important to take prevention a step further; to keep food production safe, scientists need to understand how diseases spread between animals and humans.

Learn about the government regulations that protect your food