Common Foodborne Pathogens: Salmonella
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella species are common, naturally occurring ba cteria found in the intestinal tracts of many animals and birds. When certain species of Salmonella are transferred from animals to humans – often through food contaminated with animal feces – humans experience symptoms of Salmonella poisoning.
Salmonella species are a leading cause of foodborne bacterial illnesses in humans. Human salmonellosis (the disease caused by Salmonella) is generally increasing worldwide. Poultry, beef and eggs are the predominant reservoirs of Salmonella species with other foods (fruits and vegetables) as potential vehicles for infection.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
The most c ommon symptoms of Salmonella infection are non-bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Symptoms generally oc cur 8 to 72 hours after ingestion of the pathogen and can last 3 to 5 days.
Who gets Salmonella Infection?
Foodborne infections from Salmonella are obtained through eating c ontaminated food or water. While children, the elderly and immunoc ompromised individuals are more susc eptible to infections, anyone at any age can get sick.
Proper Food Handling Techniques to Avoid Infection
Do not eat undercooked poultry and other meat products. Cook all poultry (even frozen), meats, and eggs thoroughly. Using a meat thermometer, make sure meat reaches the correct temperature. When not using, immediately place foods in refrigerator or freezer. Drink only pasteurized milk. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with cold water, especially those that will not be cooked. Make sure infected people, especially children, wash their hands carefully with soap after using the toilet to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Recent Salmonella Outbreaks in the U.S.
From August 2006 to May 2007 there were 628 cases of salmonellosis linked to peanut butter. Following investigation it was determined that the contamination occurred at the plant.
In April 2005, USDA linked cases of Salmonella infections in people to stuffed frozen chicken products sold in Minnesota and Michigan.
In 2004, several outbreaks of Salmonella were linked to consumption of uncooked roma tomatoes. These outbreaks resulted in over 500 cases of illness. It is believed that the implicated tomatoes were contaminated in either the field or packing house.
Commonly Associated Foods
Chicken and Turkey
Unpasteurized Milk and juices
Tomatoes, melons and other fresh produce
Safe Food Handling Checklist
Wash hands thoroughly
Wash counter and utensils
Keep foods separated
Cook foods thoroughly
Poultry = 165°F
Ground beef = 160°F
Steak = 145°F
Fish = 145°F
Eggs = cook until yolk and whites are firm
Refrigerate / leftovers Immediately after use
For More Information Contact:
Renee R. Boyer, Ph.D.
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June 17, 2020