Amy Simonne Ethnic Food

Salsa is considered to be one of the most popular appetizers, but this sauce can also be the cause of many health problems. Researchers from the University of Florida claim salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus present in acidic salsa survive long enough to elevate health risks. It is known that S. aureus can cause skin infections and digestive problems.

During the research, investigators examined several batches of red salsa from one Mexican-style chain restaurant. After noting down the temperature, researchers scrutinized samples of the sauce in a laboratory. In the process of investigations, researchers included salmonella or S. aureus. Some sauce samples were refrigerated. For many days all the samples were tested to determine presence of the micro-organisms in them.

It is believed that consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry or eggs can lead to salmonella infection. Patients with this food borne illness may reveal symptoms like abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. On the other hand, S. aureus, called as staph is assumed to be transferred to food by unclean hands. Survival of salmonella was registered in all samples stored at room temperature. But lower presence of S. aureus was monitored after 24 hours at room temperature.

Both can possibly survive in salsa preserved at room temperature as well as in the refrigerator. Even though S. aureus appears to have a shorter life span in salsa, the bacteria lives long enough to make the appetizer harmful if consumed. It is a common belief that salsa has a pH of less than 4, so it is acidic and illness-causing bacteria won’t survive in it. But acidic foods also have potential to cause various ailments. Just like the outbreaks of E. coli in unpasteurized apple cider and salmonella in fresh orange juice.

Amy Simonne, an associate professor of food safety and quality and colleagues cautioned that salsa should not be refrigerated for more than seven days and the time it’s unrefrigerated should be minimal. The scientists suggest that simply following hand-washing guidelines and washing ingredients properly before preparation can help avert health issues.

The research is published in the June issue of the Journal of Food Protection.