During the most recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning, which was connected to peanut butter and other peanut products, the food-borne bacteria has sickened nearly 700 people and may have contributed to the death of nine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports. That came on the heels of an outbreak last summer, finally traced back to jalapeño peppers imported from Mexico, that was responsible for more than 1,400 infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports.
And when deadly pathogens enter the food supply, the financial costs can add up, too. The peanut butter salmonella outbreak caused the recall of thousands of peanut-related products, and Georgia Peanut Commission executive director Don Koehler says the total loss could be more than $1 billion.
So what are researchers doing to protect our food?
Scientists across the U.S. are using genetics, vacuum pressure, plasma, and other measures to try to prevent the disruptions and tragedies caused by an outbreak. Their research is far from complete but could someday make you feel a lot better about that chicken you're eating. We present five such technologies here, and you can read about four more here.