• Children's Center

    Salmonella concern with snack crackers

a pile of goldfish crackers for a snack

Salmonella infection is one of the most common forms of foodborne illness in the U.S.

An estimated 1 million people become sick and 380 people die each year from the bacterial disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued voluntary recalls of Ritz, Goldfish and other products that may be contaminated by a milk product ingredient.

"There is no evidence at this time that anyone was sickened from one of these products, or that these products are contaminated," according to the FDA statement. "These recalls are being initiated because of a potential risk, and out of an abundance of caution. We know that these are products that are widely eaten by consumers, including children."

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist, says salmonella bacteria also are found in poultry products, "so chicken and eggs are usually the biggest culprits."

Watch: Dr. Rajapakse explains salmonella infection.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites are available in the downloads.

Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines. They usually are transmitted to people when they eat foods contaminated with the bacteria. However, salmonella bacteria also can be transmitted through contact with animals or their environment. Some pets, particularly birds and reptiles, can carry salmonella bacteria.

"Salmonella infection can cause a variety of symptoms. Most commonly, it causes some abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea," says Dr. Rajapakse.

"For most healthy people, salmonella infection is generally quite mild," says Dr. Rajapakse. "They may have some diarrhea, and symptoms can go away over time without needing any specific treatment. However, people who have weakened immune systems, young children, pregnant women, or people who have other issues with their digestive system may have more severe symptoms. Generally, most healthy people don’t require antibiotics to treat salmonella infection."

Prevent salmonella infection by:

  • Practicing good hand hygiene.
    Wash your hands after handling raw meat or poultry.
  • Preventing cross-contamination.
    Wash kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Not eating raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs. 
    If you must consume raw eggs, ensure they've been pasteurized.