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Salmonella is a kind of bacteria that causes infection in human and animal. The bacteria are shed through feces and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. Humans become infected through contaminated water or food leading to serious chronic diseases. Over one million U.S. people contact salmonella each year with an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and almost 400 deaths occur from the poisoning. Salmonella poisoning is more common in the summer. Warm weather and unrefrigerated foods are the ideal conditions for salmonella to grow. Salmonella symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever of 100 F to 120 F.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headaches.
  • Body aches.
  • Bloody stool.
  • Nausea

The most likely foods to be contaminated with salmonella are listed below.

Red Meat

Salmonella bacteria love to feast on raw or undercooked beef, pork, lamb and any other type of red meat. During the butchering process, feces may get onto the raw meat thus contaminating it and any other food around it. The bacteria can spread widely even into your refrigerator when storing the meat.

If possible wash the meat before refrigerating and also before cooking, then cook it thoroughly to kill any bacteria available.

Raw Eggs

Whichever you prefer brown or white, cage-free or conventional, ensure that you purchase refrigerated eggs. When buying check for and remove cracked eggs, and also check for sell by date. Companies selling eggs to the U.S. are required to wash their eggs before packaging to avoid salmonella contamination. However, some eggs may be contaminated way before they are packaged if the chicken laying the eggs has salmonella bacteria. At this point, refrigerating would help, and hence you need to cook the egg before eating to kill the bacteria. Eating raw eggs exposes you to the risk of contaminating the bacteria leading to other illnesses. You can find raw eggs in homemade versions of mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce.

Poultry

Well-shaped chicken pieces seem delicious and innocent even before cooking. However, be warned the chicken might be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. These bacteria live and grow on the meat until the chicken is cooked. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease recommends that you cook the poultry until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures your chicken is bacteria free. Plus, you avoid the serious illnesses brought by salmonella bacteria.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh products especially the imported varieties may be highly contaminated with salmonella as a result of hydration in the field or being washed with contaminated water. Vegetables are among the common causes of salmonella infection in humans. Avoid eating prepackaged salads that have been sitting in the grocery shelves for a week. If it’s a fruit, wash it, cut it and put it in a plastic bag which is safe than buying pre-washed fruits and eating them straight up. In case you must buy pre-washed and pre-bagged products, ensure you wash them again.

Raw Sprouts

These are among the difficult products to make safe. They include mung beans, clover, radish sprouts, and alfalfa. Seeds are commonly contaminated and when you sprout them in warm water, they get an ideal bath for the bacteria to grow. Most of the sprout-associated outbreaks are caused by salmonella. Elderly, children, pregnant women, and individuals with a weakened immune system should avoid eating raw sprout because they are highly susceptible to salmonella.

Raw Milk

It doesn’t matter the possible benefits you attach to drinking unpasteurized or raw milk, they aren’t worth the risk. Raw milk and products made from it can be contaminated with bacteria, parasite, and viruses which can be life-threatening. Salmonella bacteria in these products can lead to illnesses including kidney failure and paralysis. The bacteria come into contact with milk during milking. The government encourages farmers to maintain a good and clean environment around the milking plant. The container used in the milking should be well sealed to avoid feces coming into contact with milk. Otherwise, ensure you take pasteurized milk.

Conclusion

In regards to the increasing numbers of salmonella outbreaks, people are encouraged to take the necessary precautions to avoid further spread. These precautions include:

  • Ensure you wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling foods and also clean the surface you will be using to prepare the food.
  • Keep food refrigerated before cooking and avoid eating high-risk foods such as raw products.
  • If you have pets, wash your hands after contact with them, their food or poop.
  • Separate cooked food from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Clean your refrigerator often with warm water and wipe dry the inside.

All images by Pixabay

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