Virginia Tech food safety expert offers tips for selecting the right charcuterie meats

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Whether it's building out a big spread for the Super Bowl or planning a Valentine's Day meal, lots of people will be heading to the store these next few weeks to stock up on food. One item many might be considering is charcuterie. A recent Salmonella outbreak linked to charcuterie meats has raised some concerns, but Virginia Tech food safety expert Katheryn Parraga-Estrada explains that not all charcuterie products are involved in this outbreak and offers tips for selecting the right meats.

What do people need to know before buying charcuterie meats?

If you plan on buying or consuming charcuterie, make sure that you do not buy products from the brands implicated in the recent outbreak until the recall is over. If you have these products at home, discard them and thoroughly wash and disinfect any surfaces that may have come into contact with the products. 

For reference, the charcuterie products involved in the recent outbreak include:

Busseto brand Charcuterie Sampler

- Has prosciutto, sweet soppressata, and dry coppa

- Sold at Sam's Club

- Comes in a twin-pack (2 x 9oz)

 - Any lot code

Fratelli Beretta brand Antipasto Gran Beretta

- Has black pepper coated dry salami, Italian dry salami, dry coppa, and prosciutto

- Sold at Costco

- Comes in a twin-pack (2 x 12oz)

- Any lot code

The duration of a CDC investigation varies depending on the outbreak, and it may be extended. Each time an individual reports symptoms, it takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if it is linked to an outbreak. As part of your responsibility, you will need to keep informed as additional brands may be implicated in this recall.

How can people avoid Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals and can cause a gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis. Salmonella can contaminate food or drinking water due to poor hygiene of employees who handle the food or through cross-contamination from raw products, such as poultry products to cooked or ready-to-eat products. Every year, there are about 420 deaths due to salmonellosis and about 26,500 people get hospitalized because of this bacteria. 

People can prevent getting sick with salmonellosis by following these recommendations:

Wash your hands properly and sanitize them after touching pets, including poultry and reptiles, which are natural carriers of Salmonella.

  • When preparing food at home, make sure to wash and sanitize surfaces that might be contaminated with Salmonella.

  • If you have children, elderly individuals, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems at home, ensure you fully cook all foods, especially meats.

What are the symptoms of Salmonella?

Symptoms can develop within 6 hours to 6 days after consuming the food contaminated or swallowing the bacteria. While healthy individuals typically recover without treatment after 4 to 7 days, those with weakened immune systems, children under 5 years old, and adults above 65 years old may experience more severe symptoms requiring medical treatment or hospitalization.

If you experience these symptoms, make sure to keep hydrated by drinking fluids and getting rest. Dehydration can occur due to diarrhea; if symptoms are severe (bloody diarrhea, severe diarrhea for more than 3 days, high fever (>102 °F), vomiting, signs of dehydration), contact your doctor. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed.

About Parraga-Estrada

Katheryn Parraga-Estrada joined the faculty at Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center and Virginia Tech's Department of Food Science and Technology in September of 2021. Her extension work focuses on improving the understanding and application of food safety research through education, training, and technical guidance for the production of safe and quality foods. In addition, she is an active member of the International Association of Food Protection, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society, and Phi Tau Sigma Honor Society.

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