Salmonella are a group of germs (bacteria) that can cause food poisoning. Typically, food poisoning causes gastroenteritis – an infection of the gut (intestines) which leads to diarrhoea and being sick (vomiting). Salmonella bacteria may be found in the gut of many animals, including farm animals and pets. Poultry (chickens, turkeys, etc) are especially likely to carry salmonella. So, salmonella can contaminate meat (including poultry), eggs, milk and other dairy products that we may eat. Infection usually causes relatively mild symptoms but complications, including lack of fluid in the body (dehydration), can occur in some cases. The usual treatment is to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Antibiotic medicines are occasionally needed in some people who are at extra risk of having complications. The Foods Standards Agency in the UK has identified the ‘4 Cs’ to help prevent food poisoning, including food poisoning caused by salmonella
How do you get salmonella?
Salmonella germs (bacteria) may be found in the gut of many animals, including wild animals, farm animals and pets. Poultry (hens, chickens, turkeys, etc) are especially likely to carry salmonella. So, salmonella can contaminate meat (including poultry), eggs, milk and other dairy products that we may eat.
Adequate cooking of meat (including poultry) usually kills salmonella bacteria. Humans can become infected if they eat undercooked meat that is contaminated with salmonella. Eating raw or undercooked eggs, or consuming milk or other dairy products contaminated with salmonella can also pass on salmonella infection to humans.
Sometimes, other foods such as fruit and vegetables can become contaminated with salmonella through contact with manure used to help them grow. Shellfish may also become contaminated if they are in contact with infected sewage in the water.
Dogs, cats and rodents can sometimes become infected with salmonella. Tortoises and terrapins are also common salmonella carriers. Contact with infected animals or their stools (faeces) can also allow transmission of infection to humans. The bacteria can pass from your hands into your mouth and then your gut (intestines) where they can then multiply and cause symptoms.
Once you have salmonella, you may also spread the infection to your close contacts if you do not follow strict hygiene measures to prevent the spread of infection to others (see below).
Amid the investigation, though, the Food and Drug Administration did issue a mandatory recall for one company, Triangle Pharmanaturals, that failed to comply with the FDA’s request for a voluntary recall of kratom products that had been found to be contaminated. That company was far from the only one implicated in the outbreak, and the FDA published a list of all the companies and products that had gotten people sick. Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning in humans, causing over a million illnesses and about 450 deaths per year in the US, according to the CDC. i
As far as Salmonella cases go, the kratom-related outbreak only accounted for a small percentage of cases in the US this year, but this situation highlighted the public health concerns of this unregulated market. Kratom isn’t illegal, and it can be marketed as a supplement, but no seller or manufacturer has yet had the FDA respond favorably to a New Dietary Ingredient Notification, so it technically can’t be marketed for any specific purpose. This could change soon, as the FDA claimed in February that kratom is an opioid and announced plans to look further into the issue, which suggests the plant’s legal status could change soon. In the meantime, kratom consumers aren’t totally in the clear yet.
“This outbreak investigation is over. However, some kratom products that were contaminated with Salmonella have not yet been recalled and may still be available for purchase or in people’s homes,” reports the CDC. “People who are at risk of severe Salmonella infection should avoid consuming kratom to prevent infection.”
That being said, if you’re going to take a substance, you’re probably going to do it regardless. So if you take kratom, make sure to heat it over 165° for a few minutes to kill any bacteria that may be there.