Food borne diseases kill 5,000 Americans each year. Salmonella is one of the most serious risks to the general public and you must keep your family safe.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempts to carefully monitor the nation’s food supplies in an effort to keep them safe from such dangers as salmonella. There are more than 200 known diseases transmitted through food. Of these Salmonella is one of the most serious. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) reports that some 325,000 people are hospitalized each year due to food borne diseases. In addition, there are an estimated 5,000 deaths each year in the United States which are attributed to food borne diseases.
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Salmonella is a bacteria which can live in both humans and other animals. The bacteria grows inside the intestinal tract. There are several different strands of salmonella. In fact there are more than 2,300 known strands, but two strands account for the majority of illnesses in humans. (Salmonella enteritidis and salmonella typhimurium.)
Salmonella Outbreaks In The United States
Since 2006 the CDC has reported a total of 20 salmonella outbreaks in the United States. Nine of these outbreaks were in 2010. 2008 and 2009 both had three outbreaks while 2007 had four and 2006 had only a single outbreak.
2010 Salmonella Outbreaks:
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Shell Eggs
- Chessy Chicken Rice Frozen Entree
- Frozen Mamey Fruit Pulp
- Restaurant Chain
- Frozen Rodents
- Red and Black Pepper/ Italian Style Meats
- Water Frogs
2009 Salmonella Outbreaks:
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Peanut Butter
2008 Salmonella Outbreaks
- Raw Produce
- Malt-O-Meal Rice/Wheat cereals
2007 Salmonella Outbreaks
- Banquet Pot Pies
- Dry Pet Food
- Veggie Booty
- Peanut Butter
2006 Salmonella Outbreak
Washing Fruits and Other Foods
Washing fruits and vegetables has long been advised to help in the removal of pesticides. While washing may remove some pesticides the FDA says washing food that has been contaminated with salmonella will not help. The FDA does recommend you wash fruits and vegetables, but it is more to remove small amounts of dirt and other matter on the surface of the product rather than eliminating bacteria. The FDA also does not recommend the use of any type of detergent when washing foods.
You can kill salmonella by thoroughly cooking your food. The USDA recommends certain temperatures for different foods. Be certain to use a clean food thermometer and check the internal temperature of your food.
Tips to Avoid Salmonella
The following tips can help prevent salmonella. The basic of all these tips is to keep your work area and utensils clean and use common sense when handling food. If the CDC or FDA reports certain foods may be contaminated, do not use them. While it may be possible to kill all of the bacteria by cooking the product, it is not worth the risk. You want to get the potentially contaminated product out of your home as quickly as possible.
- Never thaw food at room temperature.
- Keep foods separate, even in your shopping cart. Keep poultry, beef and seafood separate by using the bags supplied in most stores.
- Never place cooked food on a plate which contained raw food.
- Cook food thoroughly.
- Use paper towels to clean your kitchen. Cloth rags/towels can hold the bacteria and help spread it to other items or surfaces.
- Wash your cutting board and knifes before cutting a new food type. (Example: If you have just cut up a chicken, clean the knife, cutting board and counter before preparing the next item.)
- Keep your work surfaces clean at all times.
- Check labels for ‘keep refrigerated’.
Symptoms of Salmonella
The symptoms of salmonella will generally not appear for at least 12 hours after consuming the contaminated item. In certain cases the symptoms may not appear for up to 72 hours. In these cases it can be extremely difficult to track the source of the bacteria.
The most common symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, nausea, and abdominal pain. The victim may also develop bloody diarrhea. Unless the infection spreads beyond the intestines there are generally not medications prescribed. Victims need to consume lots of liquid, and in cases where there is prolonged or severe diarrhea the victim may be in danger of dehydration which may require further treatment.
Persons with low immune systems, underlying health conditions, the elderly and the very young are at the greatest risks. In the severe cases the infection spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and on to other parts of the body. It is important to remember no one is immune to salmonella and it should be taken very seriously, as should its prevention.