The danger of Thanksgiving gatherings lies not only in Coronavirus, but in meat poisoning such as salmonella, which leads to 1.35 million illnesses and 420 deaths each year in the U.S.
WILLIAM JAMES: Though we should all work to mitigate the risk of spreading the Coronavirus to one another, the traditional annual Thanksgiving turkey dinner – eaten by upwards of 88 percent of Americans – faces unprecedented unique challenges caused by this year’s pandemic that should have every American thinking about where that turkey came from and what was done to ensure its safety and integrity.
A quick glance at this year’s headlines shows just how heavily the meat industry has been strained by COVID-19, with coronavirus-linked processing plant shutdowns leading to meat shortages earlier this spring. But the greater danger to Americans’ Thanksgiving celebrations lies not in meat shortages, but in one of the most common food-borne pathogens: salmonella, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates leads to 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths each year in the United States, with a significant portion of cases being transmitted through food, including turkey meat.
Salmonella can find its way into animals in several ways, including contact with other infected animals and consuming contaminated feed. At processing, salmonella can then become a meat contaminant. The meat industry controls for salmonella and other pathogens at a number of points throughout the production process, including plant worker testing, but the onus too often falls on consumers to cook meat thoroughly enough to kill any remaining pathogens.
According to FoodSafety.gov, a resource of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the primary methods for preventing salmonella infection are to “avoid eating high-risk foods,” including raw or undercooked meat and to wash your hands after contact with animals, their food or treats or their environment…
The scary truth is, salmonella can survive in feed for up to 100 days and be transmitted through animal feed products, potentially resulting in infected turkeys being sold to consumers. Thorough feed sanitization is one technology intervention that can significantly reduce this method of entry of salmonella into the food supply chain, resulting in safer products on grocery stores shelves and kitchen counters. SOURCE…