This week grape tomatoes were recalled from major grocery stores across the United State due to possible salmonella contamination. The news got me thinking about a recent University of Florida report showing that 14 different pathogens cost our nation $14 billion annually. Salmonella, which is depicted invading cultured human cells in this color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph, is responsible for a sizable chunk of those costs, according to the findings (.pdf):
Salmonella is the leading foodborne pathogen in the United States, causing the largest number of deaths, a great many hospitalizations and the highest cost burden. In addition, it is one of the few foodborne pathogens for which illnesses have not significantly declined over the past 10 years. Although Salmonella is usually associated with poultry, this pathogen can be found in a wide range of foods regulated by both the FDA and the USDA, including produce (notably tomatoes, cantaloupes and sprouts), eggs, beef and pork.