Salmonella is one of the main causes of food poisoning in different parts of the globe. It is sad to note that you cannot simply tell just by looking at a particular food or smelling it if it has been contaminated by salmonella. The only way to determine if a particular food is contaminated is through laboratory testing.
Luckily, there are several steps to minimize the risk of acquiring food poisoning from eating foods contaminated by salmonella.
What are the potential sources?
Once the individual develops diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 12-72 hours after consuming a particular food and the symptoms persist from 4-7 days, he/she might be infected with salmonella.
Poultry that has been infected by salmonella is one of the well-known causes of this type of food poisoning, but other foods can be contaminated as well as such as cheese, eggs, meat, unpasteurized milk, nuts, spices, fruit juices and raw vegetables and fruits. If possible, only buy from a reputable seller of meat or other food products to ensure good quality as well as free from any contaminants.
How to avoid contamination
There are several measures that can help prevent contamination by salmonella.
- It is recommended to cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm.
- Hot foods should stay hot and cold foods should stay cold and do not leave any food out in the open for more than 2 hours.
- If possible, utilize a separate cutting board and utensils for cooked and raw food.
- Wash hands often and always clean the surfaces and utensils used before and after use.
- Whole meats should be cooked up to 145 degrees F while ground meats up to 160 degrees F. As for poultry, they should be cooked up to 165 degrees F. At these temperatures, most of the bacteria will be eliminated if the food is contaminated, thus reducing the risk for infection.
Considerations to bear in mind
The usual symptoms of salmonella poisoning include abdominal pain, fever, stomach cramps, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. If these symptoms persist for more than 7 days, seek medical care.
Always bear in mind that food poisoning due to salmonella that does not resolve within 7 days can progress into a serious type of condition called Reiter’s syndrome which is a long-term condition that can last for several months.
There are certain types of reptiles including iguanas, turtles and lizards that can also carry salmonella. It is vital to wash hands carefully when these animals were handled if any of these animals are kept as pets. Remember that there is no evident indication if these pets carry salmonella.
Dehydration due to vomiting can be avoided by drinking water and sports drinks that replace lost nutrients and electrolytes in the body.