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In order to prevent getting salmonella infection, proper preparation and handling measures should be followed. Cooking food to the right temperature can help kill the bacterium and prevent the infection from developing. (See Reference 2) Bacteria generally grow at a rapid speed between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, cooking food over this temperature can help kill salmonella. The same is also true when keeping the food warm. (See Reference 2)
Based on the available statistics, each year in the US, 6,000 to 12,000 people fall prey to salmonella. However, health experts claim that the number is much higher as those suffering from a mild infection generally do not visit a doctor and hence, these cases do not get reported. (See Reference 1)
Generally, contamination with salmonella bacterium is more prevalent in poultry, eggs, milk and beef. Between the months of May and July in the year 2010, nearly 2,000 people fell ill due to salmonella across the US when eating contaminated eggs. (See Reference 1) This resulted in the recall of 380 million eggs. However, salmonella can also find its way into processed foods during the production phase. On 4th March 2010, the US FDA recalled dips and snacks containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein. The plant that produced the dips and snacks found traces of the bacterium in their production equipment and there were chances that the protein may have got contaminated. (See Reference 1) Even tomatoes are not spared from salmonella contamination. In July 2008, consumption of contaminated tomatoes from a farm in Mexico caused 1,300 to fall ill. (See Reference 1)
Usually, a person gets symptoms of salmonella 12 to 72 hours after consuming the contaminated food. The symptoms can persist for 4 to 7 days. Under normal circumstances, no treatment is required, but young kids, seniors and those with compromised immune system are at a risk of developing complications. (See Reference 2) At times, a person can be a carrier of the bacterium and not have any symptoms. This person has the ability to transmit the infection to others, if he or she is a food handler and does not maintain proper hygiene while preparing the food. (See Reference 2)
Generally, raw and undercooked meats and poultry, raw vegetables and fruits, raw or undercooked eggs, and raw milk can cause an outbreak of salmonella. It is advisable that these foods be cooked to a safe internal temperature to prevent a salmonella infection. (See Reference 2) Making use of a food thermometer can help a person check the internal temperature to ensure that the food is cooked thoroughly.
At times, cross contamination can also occur when cooking stuffed poultry. Hence, it is advisable to cook the stuffing separately from the meat. This will also hasten the cooking time. (See Reference 2)
Here are the recommended internal cooking temperatures to kill salmonella bacterium in meats, eggs and poultry: (See Reference 2)
- For medium rare beef, lamb and veal pieces or whole cuts, the temperature should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For medium beef, lamb and veal pieces or whole cuts, the temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For well done beef, lamb and veal pieces or whole cuts, the temperature should be 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pork whole cuts or pieces should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chicken, duck and turkey pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Whole poultry should be cooked to a temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ground meat and meat mixtures like burgers, sausages, casseroles, meatloaves and meatball should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the presence of any salmonella bacterium.
- Ground poultry and ground poultry mixtures should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that salmonella is killed completely.
- Any dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Hot dogs, leftovers and stuffing should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that the salmonella bacterium is killed.
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2. Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Salmonella Food Safety Facts