Research on Salsa, Guac Hard to Stomach

CDC says the dips are two of the more common sources of food-borne illnesses

Two Tex-Mex favorites are packed full of flavor and -- according to the Centers of Disease Control -- can also be filled with bacteria!

New research from the agency identified salsa and guacamole as two of the more common sources of food-borne illnesses.

Experts say it's because the dips often contain diced raw hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro -- all implicated in disease outbreaks. Also, they're often made in large batches, so even a small amount of contamination can affect many people.

The number of outbreaks linked to popular dips has more than doubled in 10 years. Research says nearly one out of every 25 restaurant-related outbreaks between 1998 and 2008 were traced back to the two popular Tex-Mex foods.

"I think salsa and guacamole are one of the most common foods that spread food-borne illness because the temperature of the food can't be monitored well," said Sarah Moyer, a registered dietitian.

Researchers say poor storage, such as temperature, was to blame in 20 percent of the salsa and guacamole outbreaks.

"Whether food is supposed to be cold or hot, when they are in between 40 and 140 degrees, the increase of bacteria growth doubles and triples," said Moyer. "I mean, after 20 minutes, you've got double the bacteria."

The study also said food workers' bad hygiene contributed to the problem in 20 percent of the restaurant outbreaks.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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