April 16, 2006
What are Salmonella and salmonellosis?
Salmonella bacteria are found naturally in the intestines of animals, especially poultry and swine. The bacteria can also be found in the environment. People who eat food contaminated by Salmonella can become ill with salmonellosis.
What are the symptoms of salmonellosis infection?
Like other foodborne illnesses, the symptoms of salmonellosis can feel like the flu. Symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food and usually lasts up to seven days. Or, you may experience chronic symptoms, such as reactive arthritis three to four weeks later. Others infected with the bacteria may not get sick or show symptoms, but they can carry the bacteria, and spread the infection to others.
How does the bacteria spread?
Salmonellosis can be spread from person-to-person. Both animals and people infected with the bacteria can be carriers. Therefore, proper hygiene, safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing foodborne illness. If you think you are infected with Salmonella or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food for other people unless you wear disposable gloves and follow safe food handling procedures. It’s a good idea to keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas. After handling pet treats, pet food and pet toys or after playing with, or cleaning up after your pet, it is essential to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Where has Salmonella been found?
Food can become contaminated with Salmonella during the slaughter and processing of an animal, when food is handled by a person infected with Salmonella or from cross-contamination because of unsanitary food handling practices. The following listed below have been responsible for foodborne illnesses:
raw and undercooked meat (especially poultry)
raw fruits and vegetables (especially sprouts and cantaloupes) and their juices, e.g. apple or orange juice
raw or undercooked eggs
unpasteurized dairy products, like raw milk and raw milk cheeses
Will cooking destroy the bacteria?
Like many other harmful bacteria that could be in our food, Salmonella are destroyed when food is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of your food. See table..
Foodsafe tip: Cooking a chicken? A turkey? For maximum safety, food safety experts recommend cooking the stuffing in a separate dish. Why? It takes longer for the stuffing and the meat to reach a safe internal temperature, so why not un-stuff and save time? Stuffing and meat must each reach separate safe internal temperatures. (See table.
Is it safe to eat raw or lightly cooked eggs?
Foods made from raw or lightly cooked eggs can be harmful, particularly for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. When serving eggs to people in these high risk groups, cook them thoroughly. See table.
Foodsafe tip: Try using pasteurized egg products when preparing food that traditionally contain raw eggs, such as eggnog, mayonnaise, salad dressing, ice cream and mousses. Pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria.
Defeating Salmonella: A 4-Point Plan
Get off to a CLEAN start!
Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Do you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food? Wash again when you switch from one food to another.
Are your countertops and utensils clean and sanitized? Sanitizing reduces bacteria and can prevent foodborne illness.
Combine 5 mL (1 tsp) of bleach with 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a labelled spray bottle.
After cleaning, spray sanitizer on the surface/utensil and let stand briefly.
Rinse with lots of clean water, and air dry (or use clean towels).
Foodsafe tip: Because raw fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites, wash them thoroughly with clean, safe running water before you prepare and eat them. Use a brush to scrub produce with firm or rough surfaces, such as oranges, cantaloupes, potatoes and carrots.
CHILL your food and stop bacteria cold!
Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4 degrees C and 60 degrees C (40 degrees F to 140 degrees F). Keep cold food cold at or below 4 degrees C (40 degrees F).
Refrigeration at or below 4 degrees C (40 degrees F) slows down most bacterial growth. Freezing at or below -18 degrees C (0 degrees F) can stop it completely. (But remember: chilling won’t kill bacteria. Only proper cooking will do that!)
Foodsafe tip: Keep your eggs cold! Store them in their original carton (so you can easily check the “best before” date) and place them in the coldest section of the fridge, usually near the back. Only buy clean and uncracked eggs.
SEPARATE! Don’t cross-contaminate!
Bacteria can be carried in raw meat juices. Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Use containers that are large enough to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other food or touching other food. Platters, utensils and cutting boards used for raw meat can carry bacteria, too. Use clean ones for cooked food!
Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing and preparing foods.
Foodsafe tip: Platters, utensils and cutting boards used for raw meat can carry bacteria, too. Use clean ones for cooked and other ready-to-eat food!
Have you cooked your food to a safe internal temperature? Use a digital food thermometer to check the temperature of your food. See table.
Bacteria can grow quickly in the danger zone between 4 degrees C and 60 degrees C (40 degrees F to 140 degrees F), so keep hot foods at or above 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).
Foodsafe tip: The only way to be sure that your food is cooked properly is to use a food thermometer to check.