WASHINGTON—Calling it "perfectly safe for the most part," and "not nearly as destructive or fatal as previously thought," the Food and Drug Administration approved the enterobacteria salmonella for human consumption this week.
The federal agency, which has struggled in recent years to contain the food-borne pathogen, and repeatedly failed to prevent tainted products from reaching store shelves, announced Monday that salmonella was now completely okay for all Americans to enjoy.
"Rigorous testing has shown that salmonella is…fine," FDA director of food safety Stephen Sundlof said. "In fact, our research indicates that there's no need to pull any more foodstuffs from the market. Not raw chicken. Not contaminated spinach. Not thousands of jars of harmful peanut butter. Not anything."
"It's approved," Sundlof continued."Healthy, delicious salmonella is finally approved."
Following the announcement, the FDA released a 20-page report, which included evidence that salmonella is barely more dangerous than other live-culture products such as yogurt, and results from a clinical trial which found that participants who ingested salmonella were totally fine for up to three minutes.
The report also concluded that salmonella has been around American kitchens for centuries now, and must therefore be at least harmless, if not actually good for us.
"Of course, as with everything, we encourage moderation," lead FDA researcher Phillip Millar said. "Don't just eat a whole pint of salmonella in one sitting. It's like ice cream or, for example, E. coli in that respect."
Added Millar, "A little bit goes a long way."
According to FDA officials, the intracellular bacterium will be commercially available in a variety of forms. Plans are already in the works to offer salmonella as a flavorful topping, food spread, powdered drink mix, dessert gelatin, and as a "no frills" yellow liquid guaranteed to enhance one's overall eating experience.
With hundreds of possible applications, the newly approved gram-negative microbe will also open the door for many innovative and exciting products.
"This is thrilling news," Hellmann's CEO Robert Reichert said. "We've been waiting for the federal go-ahead to produce salmonella for decades now. In fact, we have an entire line of lukewarm, sun-soaked, and partially turned mayonnaises that we just know Americans will love."
One of several new foods to feature the motile microorganism is Salmonell-Os—an O-shaped breakfast cereal packed with hearty typhoid clusters—which is expected to hit grocery stores by April.
Other products currently in development include Salmonella Helper, Kraft's Extremely Painful Mac, 'Nella Wafers, and peanut butter.
"Now that salmonella's been approved, we're working overtime to get our products to market," said David Wellbrook, head of sales for Oscar Mayer, the nation's leading producer of bologna-based goods. "I've never seen so many orders come through in a single year, much less a single day. It's incredible."
News of salmonella's approval also comes as a relief to many homemakers, who, until now, had been cautioned against letting the bacteria spread.
"It used to be such a pain to have to sanitize my kitchen," Chicago resident Margaret Thewles said. "Now all I need is one cutting board. I'll cut raw poultry on it, prepare my salad veggies on it, and then use it to serve dessert when I'm done."
Michael Weinback, a California native and father of two young children, agreed with Thewles.
"This is…arrghhh…great," Weinback said from the bottom of his living room stairs. "Oh, Jesus…here it comes agai—uuuuhhhhh, Christ. Get hel…just get…aarrghh."