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How do cucumbers get salmonella?

The Food and Drug Administration announced a recall of cucumbers possibly contaminated with salmonella that originated in Florida and sold in 14 states, including New York.

Cucumbers distributed by Fresh Start Produce Sales Inc. in Delray, Florida, said it is recalling cucumbers shipped to 14 states between May 17 and 24, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

According to USA Today, the recall was issued after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture alerted the produce company that one of their products tested positive for the bacteria. The FDA said it was testing the affected products to see if there are links to other salmonella outbreaks across the country in the past month, including cream cheese, backyard poultry, some tea brands and spices.

The FDA said the recalled cucumbers are dark green, approximately 1.5-2.0 inches in diameter and 5-9 inches long. Mini cucumbers and English cucumbers were not included.

The CDC says about 1.35 million salmonella infections occur in the United States each year. More than 26,000 of these lead to hospital admissions and more than 400 people die every year from the bacteria.

How can cucumbers get salmonella?

Although raw meat, poultry and dairy products are most commonly linked to salmonella, Mayo Clinic says any edible product, even water, can lead to salmonella if contaminated.

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of people, animals and birds. A food or water product can become contaminated if the product comes into contact with contaminated feces.

In the case of cucumbers, the Mayo Clinic says the produce can be contaminated if the water used to irrigate or wash the crops is contaminated with infected feces. Contamination of produce can also occur when juices from contaminated raw meat and poultry come into contact with vegetables or fruit.

A study from Rutgers University found that salmonella bacteria can survive for up to seven days on the surface of cucumbers stored at 7 and 21 degrees Celsius, regardless of whether the vegetable has been treated with or without wax.

The FDA said consumers should check with their local grocery stores to see if the recalled products were sold in those stores, but the organization said it was “unlikely” the products made it onto shelves.

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