Well here is the CDC press release for that from July 12, 2010:
Salsa and Guacamole Increasingly Important Causes of Foodborne Disease
Nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks with identified food sources between 1998 and 2008 can be traced back to contaminated salsa or guacamole, more than double the rate during the previous decade, according to research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
"Fresh salsa and guacamole, especially those served in retail food establishments, may be important vehicles of foodborne infection," says Magdalena Kendall, an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) researcher who collaborated on the CDC study. "Salsa and guacamole often contain diced raw produce including hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, each of which has been implicated in past outbreaks."
To better assess the role of these popular foods in outbreaks, Kendall and her colleagues searched all foodborne outbreaks reported to the CDC for those with salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo as a confirmed or suspected food vehicle and analyzed trends in the proportion of all outbreaks with identified food sources.
CDC began conducting surveillance for foodborne disease outbreaks began in 1973, yet no salsa- or guacamole-associated (SGA) outbreaks were reported before 1984. Restaurants and delis were the settings for 84 percent of the 136 SGA outbreaks. SGA outbreaks accounted for 1.5 percent of all food establishment outbreaks from 1984 to 1997. This figure more than doubled to 3.9 percent during the ten-year period from 1998 to 2008.
Inappropriate storage times or temperatures were reported in 30 percent of the SGA outbreaks in restaurants or delis and may have contributed to the outbreaks. Food workers were reported as the source of contamination in 20 percent of the restaurant outbreaks.
"Possible reasons salsa and guacamole can pose a risk for foodborne illness is that they may not be refrigerated appropriately and are often made in large batches so even a small amount of contamination can affect many customers," Kendall says. "Awareness that salsa and guacamole can transmit foodborne illness, particularly in restaurants, is key to preventing future outbreaks."
Risk can be lowered by following guidelines for safe preparation and storage of fresh salsa and guacamole to reduce contamination or pathogen growth.
"We want restaurants and anyone preparing fresh salsa and guacamole at home to be aware that these foods containing raw ingredients should be carefully prepared and refrigerated to help prevent illness," says Kendall.
The International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases is organized by the CDC, the American Society for Microbiology, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the Association of Public Health Laboratories and the World Health Organization. More information on the meeting can be found online at www.iceid.org.
I would like to see how much was related to salsa and how much to guacamole because these are two very different things and they would not be prepared in the same size batches.
Go to a typical Mexican restaurant in the states, you will probably get some complimentary "salsa" and tortilla chips. Maybe even an assortment of salsas like at my favorite one. You will probably NOT get complimentary guacamole. When guacamole is served it is just a bit to accompany something…otherwise you'd have to order it a la carte. Usually, I mean, in my experience.
The chances that there is a gallon of salsa sitting in the kitchen of your Mexican restaurant, unrefrigerated, are very high. After all, they go through "gallons" of the stuff. Guacamole, no so much. It'd get very bad very fast compared to salsa if you made too big a batch.
I don't really know, I'm just guessing. It just seems to me a bit funny that they should be "equally" responsible. Which makes me wonder…and who has seen the research anyway…if the tracing of these outbreaks was absolutely confirmed or if some of these were "traced to salsa and/or guacamole".
The news media basically takes this stuff and runs with it. As you can see if you check out all the various news sites that have picked up this news release there is very little effort made to do anything other than copy it verbatim, as I have done above. Unless you see the ACTUAL DATA and what the outbreaks were or were not traced to, I wouldn't be going "skip the dip" like some of the headlines scream. What was the methodology? What were the criteria for the outbreaks that were included or not included? This stuff is not always so clear cut. Were ALL the outbreaks associated with restaurants? Were retail products mixed in the results (i remember a 5 layer bean dip with salsa and guacamole that poisoned a lot of people). There is a difference between an association with a food found early on in a fact finding "hypothesis generating" interview process, and say, a bucket of salsa analysed, cultured and confirmed.
Let's look at what the news release says:
Kendall and her colleagues searched all foodborne outbreaks reported to the CDC for those with salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo as a confirmed or suspected food vehicle and analyzed trends in the proportion of all outbreaks with identified food sources.
"salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo as a confirmed or suspected food vehicle"
Did NOT say, "from restaurants". Maybe they meant 'from restaurants' but they did not SAY from restaurants. So were some or most from restaurants? All? News Releases suck and news stories that just run with news releases suck.
They did start with:
Nearly 1 out of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks
So the change in language is messy, at least.
I wonder why they don't release these studies instead of just talking about a report given at a conference.
i left half an avocado out for a few minutes the other night and it started to turn brown like an apple. and usually they are kind of expensive…so you're right about restaurants not having it sitting around all the time…usually around here you have to ask for it…unless it comes with the meal. i hate the complimentary chips and salsa around here. the salsa is usually just watery yuck.
they are never cheap and the window for using them is fairly short. Too hard and green or too old and mushy and they are terrible. They have to be juuuuuussst right.
So we were just having Mexican on Saturday night. This was a big chain place nearby the theater we were going to see a movie. We weren't able to go to our favorite place (not a chain) because of the downtown traffic and parking situation (would have missed the movie).
The complementary salsa was chilled and although this thread crossed my mind I wasn't concerned about it. But the quacamole that came with one of the dishes was terrible. So, lol, my first thought was…BAD. But then it was just NO flavor not rancid or anything like that. It was mostly just a not so good avocado. Being an avocado freak I know they are not all created equal and you get flavorless duds sometimes. A good avocado tastes good all by itself. At least it does to me.
I think I had a point when I started this…