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New Technology Helping Contain Outbreaks Of Contaminated Food

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Federal health officials say new technology is helping contain outbreaks of contaminated food.

Every year 48 million Americans are treated for foodborne diseases. The numbers are likely higher because food poisoning often goes unreported.

Scientist say DNA technology is now helping better track down outbreaks.

Precut melons have been linked to 10 more cases of salmonella infections, according to new numbers from the CDC.

Seventy people in seven states have now become sick. Caito Foods recalled the fresh-cut melon products earlier this month.

"People that are infected with salmonella will have diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps about 12 to 72 hours after they've eaten a contaminated food. Most people recover in about four to seven days. Other people do have a more severe illness and do require hospitalization," said Dr. Laura Gieraltowski, Foodborne Outbreak Response Team Lead with the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.

Last week, another salmonella outbreak was announced, this one linked to Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal. The CDC says new technology is helping them better detect these outbreaks and stop them.

"When people get infected with a bacteria we're able to use this new technology to get a DNA fingerprint, and when people have the same DNA fingerprint, we're more confident that these illnesses are related to a common food," said Gieraltowski.

While these recalls can be scary, there are things people can do to prevent foodborne illnesses at home. That includes looking out for recalls and tossing contaminated products.

"Also people can help us solve outbreaks. You know, if you get food poisoning, go see your doctor. Report your illness to a health department," Gieraltowski says.

The CDC also reminds everyone to follow safe food practices, washing hands and surfaces often, cooking foods to the right temperature and refrigerating them promptly.

Food safety experts say there's been an increase of almost 125 percent in the average number of food recalls, when comparing data from 2004-2013. Part of that is due to better surveillance.

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