CDC: Salsa, guacamole increasing source of foodborne illness

July 15, 2010

Contaminated salsa or guacamole was the source of nearly 1 out of 25 restaurant-associated outbreaks of foodborne illness between 1998 and 2008, according to research released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate from the previous decade.

One possible reason for the increase may be that fresh salsa and guacamole contain raw produce, such as peppers and cilantro, which has been a source of recent outbreaks. Researchers also pointed out that salsa and guacamole often are made in large batches, meaning a small contamination could potentially affect a large number of customers.

Inappropriate storage or temperature was a factor in 30 percent of salsa- and guacamole-related outbreaks, and food workers were a source for 20 percent of contaminations.