Once again, salmonella has resulted in a massive recall of food products here in the United States. Salmonella in its severest form is deadly and is easily preventable. Even with all of the steps that can be taken to keep you and your family safe, if you have a product that has been recalled, return it immediately. Below are eleven steps to prevent salmonella.
Salmonella is a bacteria that frequently is carried by amphibians like lizards, frogs, and turtles. The salmonella bacteria is often found in the environment of amphibians like their tank, water, and grasses. For this reason, amphibians may not be the best pet for your home. Salmonella can also infect birds and other animals.
Once ingested, salmonella makes people ill in about 12-72 hours with symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The symptoms last about 4-7 days and resolve on their own in most cases. However, the ill, young, elderly, and people with underlying health conditions often will seek medical treatment as they tend to become more ill with the disease. Some of these people need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics in order to recover. At times the bacteria invade other areas like the bloodstream. A bloodstream infection with salmonella is quite dangerous and can be deadly as can the diarrhea if left untreated and out of control.
After an infection with salmonella, bowel habits may not return to normal for months. At times a small number of people (whether treated with antibiotics or not) that were infected with salmonella may develop eye irritation, painful joints and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome and can last from months to years. Reiter’s syndrome has no cure and can lead to chronic arthritis. This type of arthritis is difficult to treat and is not amenable to the normal drugs that treat arthritis.
Since salmonella is a preventable disease and can be transmitted through food and feces, it is reportable to the health department. If salmonella is suspected, the health department will perform free diagnosis most of the time. The health department performs an investigation and alerts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as necessary. The chain moves on until the source is found. The CDC may involve the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA can conduct investigations into factories that may be the source of any given outbreak. The FDA has the authority to recall products and shut down the factory if necessary.
Steps to prevent infection with salmonella:
- 1. Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly.
a. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees
b. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees
c. Eggs should be cooked until there is no visible clear or runny white areas
- 2. Don’t eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or milk
a. Use pasteurized milk only
b. An option is pasteurized eggs in a carton
i. This is especially good for homemade items that require raw eggs
- 3. If your poultry, beef, or eggs are undercooked, no matter where you are, don’t eat them, send them back for thorough cooking
- 4. Everything that comes in contact with raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs needs to be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water immediately after contact
a. No leaving until later because the bacteria can hide in cracks and sponges
making it more difficult to remove
- 5. Foods that are served to the elderly, infants, and those with immune system problems need to be extra cautious
a. Include people with diseases like crohn’s, colitis, arthritis, etc.
- 6. Wash hands thoroughly after touching amphibians and their living environment
a. Never let an amphibian on your countertop for any reason
- 7. Amphibians should never come in contact with the very young or infirm
- 8. Wash hands thoroughly after contact with birds, baby birds, or any pet feces
- 9. Keep diapering and food preparation as separate tasks and wash hands thoroughly after diapering activities
- 10. Handle beef and chicken separately with thorough washing of surfaces between different types of meat
- 11. Wash produce thoroughly prior to eating
Salmonella will continue to be a problem. Keep yourself safe with the eleven steps to prevent salmonella for food safety and the prevention of a variety of diseases. Return recalled food items and don’t be afraid to send food back to the cook for proper preparation.
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