The official report on the latest salmonella outbreak related to peaches points to adjacent land use as the potential cause. Between August and October of last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked with multiple agencies investigating the outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections. Last year, there were 101 reported illnesses across 17 states related to the outbreak. It marked the first time that a Salmonella outbreak was traced back to peaches.
“We hypothesize that the adjacent animal operations (both poultry and cattle) were a likely contributing factor to the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak – with fugitive dust as one possible route of product contamination,” FDA stated in its report. “Investigational activities and findings associated with this outbreak support FDA’s hypotheses about adjacent and nearby land use and possible routes of contamination.”
Adjacent land use has been a contributing factor in many of the most recent foodborne illness outbreaks. Multiple instances of E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens were believed to be caused by contamination from nearby livestock operations. Foodborne illnesses have typically been traced back to a contaminated water source in most cases. However, the FDA believes that airborne transmission could be the cause in the instance of the recent Salmonella outbreak.
During the investigation, FDA worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state partners, as well as Canadian public health officials. More than 700 tests were conducted during the investigation. FDA found several Salmonella isolates in samples that were collected from the peach orchards that were tested. However, the outbreak strain was not discovered during the investigation.
The findings have underscored FDA’s concerns with adjacent land use in relation to food safety. FDA recommends all farms be aware of surrounding areas and the risk associated with nearby livestock and poultry. The agency is also encouraging more collaboration between neighboring farming operations to identify and address areas of risk.