MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Salsa and guacamole are
becoming increasingly significant causes of foodborne disease,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Between 1998 and 2008, nearly one out of every 25
restaurant-associated foodborne disease outbreaks with food sources
that could be identified were caused by contaminated salsa or
guacamole. That's more than double the rate during the previous
Researchers analyzed CDC data and found that no salsa- or
guacamole-associated outbreaks were reported between 1973 -- when
the CDC began collecting data on foodborne disease outbreaks -- and
Between 1984 and 1997, salsa and guacamole outbreaks accounted
for 1.5 percent of all restaurant-related foodborne disease
outbreaks. During the decade between 1998 and 2008, though, that
figure more than doubled to 3.9 percent.
Improper storage times or temperatures may have contributed to
the foodborne illnesses, and were reported in 30 percent of
salsa/guacamole outbreaks in restaurants or delis. In addition, in
20 percent of the restaurant outbreaks, food workers were
reportedly the source of contamination.
The study was slated to be presented Monday at the International
Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, in Atlanta.
"Fresh salsa and guacamole, especially those served in retail food establishments, may be important vehicles of foodborne infection," Magdalena Kendall, a researcher at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education in Oak Ridge, Tenn., who collaborated on the study, said in a news release from the CDC. "Salsa and guacamole often contain diced raw produce including hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, each of which has been implicated in past outbreaks."
Kendall said salsa and guacamole can pose a risk for foodborne
illness because "they may not be refrigerated appropriately and are
often made in large batches so even a small amount of contamination
can affect many customers. Awareness that salsa and guacamole can
transmit foodborne illness, particularly in restaurants, is key to
preventing future outbreaks."
Safe preparation and storage of fresh salsa and guacamole can
reduce the risk of contamination or the growth of pathogens, the
"We want restaurants and anyone preparing fresh salsa and guacamole at home to be aware that these foods containing raw ingredients should be carefully prepared and refrigerated to help prevent illness," Kendall said.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has more about