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Spotlight on Salmonella

Salmonella is a rod-shaped bacterium that can be present in eggs, poultry and pasteurized milk. Salmonella can be destroyed by cooking food thoroughly, but with over 39,000 cases of food poisoning linked to Salmonella each year in Australia, it’s important to understand which foods may be high-risk and how to prepare food to avoid infection from the bacteria. 

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella bacteria can cause gastroenteritis in humans which can result in symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and headaches which can last for up to 7 days. People can become infected with salmonella through eating foods, drinking water and touching surfaces that have been contaminated. Cases of food poisoning from Salmonella tend to be more common in the summer as increased temperatures often mean that food is stored in dangerous conditions allowing the bacteria to grow. Reduce the risk of infection by using commercial kitchen supplies designed to prevent cross-contamination and ensuring that perishable foods are frozen or put in the fridge within an hour of purchasing them.

Which foods are likely to be contaminated by Salmonella?

Salmonella can be present in meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables and even nut butters. Foods that are contaminated with salmonella can be difficult to identify as they often smell and look normal. 

Eggs
Eggs can be contaminated by Salmonella as it is often carried by live poultry which can infiltrate into the egg before the hard shell is formed. The shell can also be contaminated by poultry droppings in the vicinity of the eggs. Be sure to store eggs in the fridge to limit the growth of the bacteria and do not use any cracked or dirty eggs. Only eat eggs that are fully cooked to the point where the yolk and white are firm and only use pasteurised eggs when preparing sauces that require raw eggs such as carbonara or hollandaise sauce.

Poultry

Chicken is versatile and popular, making it a great menu item. However, chicken can be contaminated by Salmonella making it a high risk food type. There are several ways to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection from chicken. Store poultry at the bottom of the fridge in sealed packaging to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and wash your hands before and after handling it. Use designated colour-coded chopping boards and utensils to prepare poultry. Do not wash raw poultry as this can spread the Salmonella bacteria and always make sure that it is fully cooked before serving. 

Fruits and vegetables

Salmonella can also be found on fruits and vegetables due to farming methods and should be thoroughly washed before preparation and consumption. Fruits and vegetables should also be scrubbed with small vegetable brushes to remove dirt from the surface and reduce the risk of infection from bacteria that get caught in the uneven surfaces of some fruits and vegetables. Be sure to cook fruits and vegetables thoroughly and do not consume anything that carries a high risk of Salmonella.

Fildes Food Safety offers a range of commercial kitchen supplies designed to prevent cross-contamination and food poisoning such as colour-coded chopping boards and food thermometers to test if food is cooked through. Visit the Fildes Food Safety website or get in touch with your Fildes representative to place an order.

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