A drug-resistant strain of Salmonella from ground turkey has prompted a recall this week of 36 million pounds of products from meat processing giant Cargill. The recalled turkey was distributed nationwide since March 1, has killed one person, and sickened nearly 80 people thus far.
Salmonella thrives in the intestinal tracts of animals and humans. Illnesses range from mild to serious infections.
Salmonella poisoning symptoms includes abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever that develop 12 to 72 hours after ingestion. Most people recover in about a week without treatment, but others may require IV fluids and antibiotics. Serious and potentially fatal cases are more likely in children and elderly people, or those with weak immune systems.
Meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, eggs, and some fruits and vegetables may carry salmonella bacteria. People should avoid consuming undercooked or raw meat, unpasteurized dairy products and homemade foods made with raw eggs (i.e. no licking the bowl from cake mix).
Cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees is often good enough to kill salmonella bacteria, but it’s best to throw away or return a recalled product to the store. It’s also important to properly wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some other important tips about food safety bear repeating:
- Thoroughly wash hands before handling any food.
- Always make sure counter tops, cutting utensils and surfaces are clean.
- Don’t handle meat and fresh produce together. In fact, we recommend using two cutting boards, one for meat and one for everything else.
- Rinds or outer skins also need washed on fresh produce. Dirt, bacteria and pesticides can be transferred inside fruits and vegetables when you cut into them.
- It’s just as important to wash pre-cut and packaged produce, even if the bag says “ready to eat”.
- Use a food thermometer when cooking meat.
- Immediately refrigerate leftover food.
Please keep in mind that water is not always enough to remove dirt, bacteria, and pesticides from fresh produce, especially if you don’t rinse long enough or apply enough rubbing force. Using a natural soy fruit and vegetable cleanser is an added step in protecting yourself and your family from illness. These cleansers are also effective in disinfecting food preparation areas and cutting boards.