Recommended food safety practices can prevent salmonella

With the recent salmonella outbreak in California, be sure to follow these tips to guard against poultry salmonella infections.

With the recent outbreak of salmonella in California it has been reported that an estimated 278 people in 18 states have been sickened with the food source linked to chicken produced in California.

“The outbreak is continuing,” states the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has named three facilities operated by Foster Farms as the likely source of raw chicken that has been contaminated with a strain of bacteria known as salmonella Heidelberg. Most of the chicken has been sold in California, Oregon and Washington.

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Symptoms develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment, but diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is sometimes necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants and those who have impaired immune systems are at highest risk. If you only have diarrhea, you usually recover completely, although it may be several months before your bowel habits are entirely normal.

You and your family can prevent salmonella infections – the best way of avoiding salmonella infections is to make sure that everything is thoroughly cooked. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you follow the four Fight BAC! practices: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. These practices can serve as reminders to always handle and cook poultry, and all foods properly to reduce the risk of illness to you and your family

Clean – Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter-tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.

Separate – Avoid cross-contamination of other foods. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, your kitchen and in your refrigerator.

Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.

Do not rinse raw poultry in your sink – it will not remove bacteria. In fact, it can spread raw juices around your sink, onto your countertops or onto ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry can only be killed when cooked to a safe internal temperature.

Cook

  • Cook poultry thoroughly. Poultry products, including ground poultry should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should be refrigerated no more than two hours after cooking.
  • The only accurate way to determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the product is to use a food thermometer. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, older adults and persons with impaired immune systems.

Chill

  • Make poultry products the last items you select at the store. Once home, the products must be refrigerated or frozen promptly.
  • After cooking, refrigerate any uneaten poultry within two hours. Leftovers will remain safe to eat for two-three days.
  • Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Thaw frozen poultry in the refrigerator — not on the countertop — or in cold water.
  • When barbecuing poultry outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked poultry on the same plate used to transport raw poultry to the grill.

Following these food safety practices can help you and your family guard against foodborne illness like salmonella and other foodborne bacteria.

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