4 Ways to Protect Yourself From Salmonella After Outbreak Affects 70 People
Here is how to protect yourself against salmonella, says the CDC.
This week the Food and Drug Administration issued a major warning: "Do not eat, sell, or serve recalled diced onion products," they urged in a press release. Why? According to the FDA 73 people in 22 states experienced salmonella food poisoning after consuming bagged dice onions and celery sold by the California company Gills Onions – and 15 were so sick they were hospitalized. Aside from not eating the recalled onions, how can you protect yourself from salmonella? Here is what you need to know.
The CDC explains that you can get a Salmonella infection from a variety of foods, including chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, fruits, sprouts, other vegetables, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, and stuffed chicken entrees.
"Some recent Salmonella outbreaks that sickened people in many states were linked to flour, peanut butter, salami sticks, onions, prepackaged salads, peaches, and ground turkey," they add.
Salmonella symptoms usually start 6 hours to 6 days after infection, according to the CDC. Diarrhea "that can be bloody," fever, and stomach cramps are the most common symptoms. While people recover within 4 to 7 days without antibiotic treatment, some suffering from severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized or take antibiotics.
The CDC suggests following the Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill guidelines when you prepare food at home. "These steps can help keep you and your family safe from Salmonella infection and other kinds of food poisoning," they write.
The first step is cleaning. "Wash hands with soap and clean, running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially after touching raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry (like chicken and turkey), seafood, or their juices," they say. "Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot, soapy water, especially after they've touched raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices." One surprising suggestion? They discourage washing raw poultry, meat, or seafood before cooking. "Washing can spread germs to other foods, utensils, and surfaces," the CDC explains.
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery cart and in your refrigerator. "Keep eggs in the original carton and store them in the main part of the refrigerator, not in the door," the CDC adds. Also, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and deli meat. Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. "Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices," the CDC ads.
Because salmonella regularly spreads via undercooked food, they suggest using a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:
- 145°F for beef, pork, ham, veal, and lamb (then let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
- 145°F for fish with fins (or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork)
- 160°F for ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and ground lamb
- 160°F for egg dishes that do not contain meat or poultry
- 165°F for egg dishes that contain meat or poultry
- 165°F for poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), including ground chicken and ground turkey
- 165°F for leftovers and casseroles
The CDC also stresses the importance of chilling food properly. "Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or colder," they say. "Never leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (like a hot car or picnic). Perishable food includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy, cut fruit, some vegetables, cooked rice, and leftovers."