These days, outbreaks of salmonella bacteria seem to make the news routinely.
Often, it is linked to eggs and poultry, but spinach has also been affected and more recently, romaine lettuce.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that salmonella causes a million food-borne illnesses every year in the United States. It says salmonella is more common in the summer when warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for the bacteria to grow.
In recent years, the food-borne illness -- sometimes called “food poisoning” -- has also been linked to contaminated cucumbers, pistachios, raw tuna, sprouts, and many other foods. It can also be contracted from beef, pork, fruits, and processed foods like nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees.
The CDC says foods contaminated with salmonella usually look and smell normal, which underscores why it is important to know how to prevent infection.
Symptoms of infection usually appear six to 48 hours after eating a contaminated food, but can take much longer. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. In most cases, the CDC says, the illness lasts four to seven days and people recover without antibiotic treatment, but some people may have severe diarrhea and need to be hospitalized.
Anyone can get a salmonella infection, but older adults, children younger than 5, and people with immune systems weakened from medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney disease, or their treatment are at great risks.
You should contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:
n Diarrhea and a fever over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
n Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving.
n Bloody stools.
n Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.
n Signs of dehydration, such as making very little urine, dry mouth and throat, and dizziness when standing up.
To reduce your chance of contracting salmonella:
n Refrigerate or freeze perishables (foods likely to spoil or go bad quickly), prepared foods, and leftovers within two hours. Chill them within an hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or hotter.
n Avoid eating raw eggs or eggs that have runny whites or yolks.
To keep you and your family safe, follow these clean, separate, cook and chill guidelines:
n Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling uncooked eggs, or raw meat, poultry, and seafood and their juices.
n Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
n Don’t wash raw poultry, meat, and eggs before cooking. Germs can spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.
n Sanitize food contact surfaces with a freshly made solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water.
n Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery cart and in your refrigerator. Keep eggs in the original carton and store them in the main part of the refrigerator, not in the door.
n Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods such as salads and deli meat.
n Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.
n Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
n Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:
n 145 degrees for beef, veal, lamb, and fish (let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
n 145 degrees for pork and ham (let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
n 160 degrees for ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and ground lamb
n 160 degrees for egg dishes
n 165 degrees for poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), including ground chicken and ground turkey
n 165 degrees for casseroles
n Microwave food to 165 degrees or above.
n Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or colder.
n Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or hotter).
Visit www.cdc.gov/features/salmonella-food/ for more information.