Tainted Turkey Is Likely Source of Latest Salmonella Outbreak
An antibiotic-resistant strain of salmonella has made its way into at least 26 states, killing one person and sickening 77. On Wednesday, U.S. health officials were investigating the source of the outbreak, which they believe is tied to tainted ground turkey. The probe so far points to a single facility—the location of which is being withheld—that has produced three of four salmonella-infected ground turkey samples taken from four stores. The salmonella strain involved worries officials because it is resistant to common antibiotics, raising the risk of hospitalization and treatment failure, the CDC says. Symptoms of salmonella infection include: diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Although most people recover without treatment, the infection can be deadly, especially if treatment fails and it's allowed to spread from the intestines to the bloodstream. Older adults, infants, and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella Infection
Salmonella is scary, but you can take steps to prevent infection with basic precautions, U.S. News reported in 2009.
1. Eat well-cooked food. In recent years, some of the nastiest food poisoning outbreaks have been caused by fresh fruit and veggies—canteloupes and jalapeño peppers in 2008, and spinach in 2006. Washing doesn't solve the problem, since pathogens can get inside the nooks and crannies of a cantaloupe rind, for example. There's also evidence that leafy greens and tomatoes can slurp bacteria into their cells along with water, either in the field or during processing. As Doug Powell, director of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University, says: "Washing's not enough. You gotta cook it." If you're worried, sautéed spinach is a better bet than salad. Cooking meats thoroughly eliminates pathogens common in chicken and ground beef. [Read more: New Salmonella Outbreak: Here's How to Reduce Your Risk]
Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Inspection?
If a restaurant inspector barged into your kitchen tomorrow, would it pass the test—or would he threaten to shut you down? Clipboard in hand, he'd check the temperature inside the refrigerator. Warmer than 40 degrees? Violation. Raw meat stored above ready-to-eat food? More points off. Same goes for dirty, cracked eggs, and swollen, leaking, or rusted cans of food. And don't even think about smoking while you're cooking.
At least one in seven home kitchens would flunk a restaurant-type health inspection, a recent study by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health suggests, and only three out of five would earn an A or B, U.S. News reported in 2010. Since food consumed at home is the source of roughly half of the nation's annual 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses, that's worrisome. "Sometimes we get a little sloppy in our own kitchens," says Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian and nutrition professor at Boston University. "Whether you're bringing raw food into your home to prepare or leftovers from a restaurant, you have to do your part to help reduce the risk of coming down with a food-borne illness." [Read more: Would Your Kitchen Pass a Restaurant Inspection?]
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