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Egg Tracker May Help Prevent Salmonella Outbreaks, Assist Recalls

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

This photo shows salmonella infecting a human. It’s a bacteria often borne by dairy products requiring multiple recalls every year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Questioning the products in your refrigerator after a recall is a normal response whenever word of salmonella contamination becomes public. How do you know for sure that the eggs on your shelf are safe? Often the solution is to toss anything questionable in the spirit of “better safe than sorry.” With a new tracing system, the Food and Drug Administration may have the tools necessary to say for sure what eggs are contaminated. 

Food recalls due to salmonella contamination are fairly common. It’s a bacteria that can pass between humans, animals and even surfaces like refrigerator shelving with ease. When a manufacturer detects the presence of salmonella, anything that touched the contaminated surface is suspect. However, it is difficult to determine exactly when and what brought the salmonella in or how far reaching the contamination is.

Due to the safety efforts of the FDA and the agriculture industry, outbreaks are far less frequent and are caught early thanks to regular testing. New technology may further those efforts. CAT squared offers a tracking system for eggs using software and barcode marking from the point at which eggs leave the farm. Each case can be easily identified and its movements tracked so that salmonella may also be tracked.

There are thousands of types of the bacteria salmonella, which puts eradication at a disadvantage. When a person becomes sick with salmonella, the effects are apparent within days. The patient will feel fever, chills, muscle aches and pains. There could be nausea, vomiting and the presence of blood in excrement. It’s possible that some salmonella could cause typhoid fever. Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable.

While salmonella can potentially be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, most people generally will recover in a week or so. The experience is unpleasant and some may require hospitalization to reduce fever and remain hydrated. Thus, any time a company can eliminate or more accurately reduce contaminated goods on the market, it becomes an imperative of public health.

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