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Canadians Reminded Of Protecting Themselves From Salmonella

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the importance of proper food handling in the prevention of salmonellosis, a foodborne illness caused by Salmonella.

Salmonella are bacteria that are naturally found in the intestines of many animals and birds, and are one of the most common causes for foodborne illness. Symptoms of salmonellosis include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever and usually appear between 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.

While uncooked meat, poultry and eggs are the most common foods contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, all foods, including fruits and vegetables, can become contaminated. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can also infect others. Work surfaces that have been used to prepare uncooked meat, poultry and eggs can also expose you to Salmonella.

It is estimated that every year, 11 to 13 million Canadians suffer from foodborne illness. You can minimize your chances of contracting salmonellosis by taking the following precautions:

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Wash your hands. Handwashing, using soap and warm water before and after handling food, is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Remember to wash your hands when you finish handling raw foods. Also, be sure to wash your hands after caring for your family pet, as Salmonella can be found in animal feces and on reptiles.

Keep work surfaces clean. Be sure to carefully wash with soap and warm water all cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing uncooked foods. Wash all plates and utensils that touched or held raw meat or poultry before using them again for food that is ready-to-eat.

Wash all fresh produce. Raw fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with bacteria so they should be washed thoroughly with running water before they are prepared and eaten. Use a brush to scrub produce with firm or rough surfaces, such as cantaloupes, oranges, potatoes and carrots.

Cook food thoroughly. Contaminated foods may look and smell normal, but thorough cooking will destroy the bacteria. Use a digital instant-read food thermometer to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. Don't eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat and avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and dairy products. Cooked foods are safe to eat when internal temperatures are:

* 71° C (160° F) for ground beef
* 74° C (165° F) for leftover food, ground poultry and poultry parts
* 85° C (185° F) for whole poultry

Properly store food. When buying and storing foods, separate raw meat and poultry from fruits, vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria grow quickly at room temperature, so be sure to refrigerate or freeze food immediately when returning from grocery shopping and never defrost food at room temperature. Always defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.