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Minneapolis St. Paul News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | Minneapolis, Minnesota | kare11.com

How salmonella can infect your favorite snack foods

You might not expect to see it in processed food like crackers and cereal. Health officials say it happens more often than you might think.

ST PAUL, Minn-- Salmonella outbreaks are something we hear about each year - especially when it comes to raw meat and fresh produce.

You might not expect to see it in processed food like crackers and cereal.

Health officials say it happens more often than you might think.

"Salmonella is one of the most challenging foodborne pathogens we have and it can come from anywhere and be virtually on any food," Minnesota Department of Health manager Kirk Smith says.

An outbreak of salmonella led to a recall of Honey Smacks cereal earlier this year.

This pesky pathogen has also led to our nation’s most recent food recall involving two popular crackers.

The companies that make Ritz crackers and four varieties of Goldfish crackers issued recalls after finding out their supplier of whey powder discovered salmonella in one of their recent batches.

“So now everything this whey powder went into is going to have to be recalled too,” Smith explains.

Whey powder is a byproduct of making cheese, which is obviously a dairy product and is susceptible to salmonella.

"Whey powder starts with raw milk. It is a dairy product and so before milk is pasteurized some percentage of that will have salmonella," Smith says.

Whey powder is used in a variety of products, from snacks and crackers, to protein powder drinks.

Food investigators are trying to find out if this powder was used in any other products and if those products need to be recalled as well.

But it’s not just whey powder that can lead to a salmonella outbreak in your favorite processed foods.

“Salmonella can be in raw flour too,” Smith says. “Between one and three percent of flour has salmonella in it.”

Contaminated wheat flour has led to numerous salmonella outbreaks in the past, Smith says.

“Growing up your mom might have told you not to eat cake batter and stuff like that. She was probably warning you about the eggs, but eating raw flour can be just as bad,” Smith explains.

So, it's not just raw meat and fresh produce that can lead to salmonella.

Smith says nearly every food on the market these days can easily come into contact with salmonella if the conditions in the food processing facility isn’t clean enough.

“Salmonella survives very well. We certainly do see processed food outbreaks from time to time,” Smith says.

No illnesses have been connected to this latest salmonella outbreak.

For more information on salmonella other foodborne illnesses, click here.