Illustration of Salmonella bacteria cell structure by John Bavosi
1. Salmonella is a bacteria that triggers one of the most common foodborne illnesses in people all over the world, causing Salmonellosis, with diarrhea as a main symptom, and also typhoid fever.
2. Salmonella lives in the digestive tracts of animals, birds and people.
3. People usually become infected by eating foods or water contaminated with faeces. Common foods that can be contaminated are chicken, beef, unpasteurised eggs and dairy. Many other foods have also been contaminated through manure or sewage being in contact with water or soil, eg. shellfish, vegetables and fruit.
4. You can’t smell, taste or see Salmonella in food, microbiological testing is required to confirm its’ presence.
5. Salmonella includes 2 600 serotypes of bacteria. S.Typhimurium and S.enteritidis are the most common.
6. Symptoms take 8 – 72 hours to develop and include diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting and fever for 3 – 7 days:
- Recommended treatment is rest, hydration and a plain food diet.
- Mild cases do not require further treatment, severe cases require antibiotics (some strains of anti-biotic resistant Salmonella have emerged recently).
- Can cause death in the very young, very old or immune-compromised.
7. People infected with Salmonella should avoid being around other people for up to 48 hours after the infection has passed. They should not prepare food for others.
8. Thorough hand washing is most important to the avoidance of S food poisoning. Important points:
- After using a toilet
- Before and after handling raw food
- Before eating
- After working in the garden
- After handling pets or anmials, especially reptiles
9. Safe food storage, cleaning and cooking is also major:
- Separate – prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw foods separate from prepared foods, as well as the surfaces and equipment that touches them.
- Wash the preparation equipment used for raw foods before using for other food types. Keep seperate coloured chopping boards for different food types.
- Sanitise coutertops and surfaces with a bleach solution.
- Refrigerate or freeze to slow bacteria growth. Summer, warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for growth. Food should not be left standing at room temperature for longer than 2 – 4 hours, depending on the weather.
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature, use a food thermometer to ensure thorough cooking
- Reheat food to a high temperature until steaming hot because this bacteria is not resistant to heat, and then allow to cool to a warm temperature for eating.
10. The presence of Salmonella can be confimed by performing hygiene tests (take 24 – 48 hours) or more detailed microbiological tests (3 – 5 days).