Food Safety, Preparation and Storage Tips
Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the University of Arizona
Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, eggs, and other meat and poultry products are important sources of protein, iron and other nutrients. However, these foods, like all raw animal foods may carry Salmonella and other bacteria. The good news is that these bacteria don't have to cause illness. Routine food safety practices can destroy salmonella and other bacteria, and prevent outbreaks of the illnesses they cause.
There are about 2,000 different strains of Salmonella bacteria. But, only about 10 of them cause problems for humans. They are found in the intestinal tracts and waste of livestock, poultry, household animals, birds, and other mammals. Despite strict sanitation practices in food processing plants, it is virtually impossible to guarantee that raw meat or poultry will be "salmonella free".
Illness occurs if enough live Salmonella bacteria enter our bodies through food. The numbers of salmonella on a raw food may be fairly low and do not increase if the food is properly refrigerated. But careless food handling practices can give bacteria a chance to multiply.
For example, if a knife used to cut up raw poultry is then used to cut up lettuce for salad without first being washed, the lettuce can be contaminated by any bacteria that have been on the meat. Since the lettuce is not cooked before eating, the person who eats the lettuce will also eat the bacteria and get sick. Once bacteria are in the small intestine, they can multiply, and cause illness. You or your family can have diarrhea, upset stomach, chills, fever or headache. And, symptoms may last for 3 to 5 days.
Salmonella infections can be life-threatening for the very old or very young or for persons already weakened by serious diseases. Many persons with the illness think they have the flu and never see a doctor.
Prevent Salmonella infections in your home or in group meals by following these guidelines:
Material written by Mary Abgrall and
Scottie Misner, June 1998.