When you’re having a barbecue or picnic, be sure you don’t invite foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella bacteria.
Each year in the United States, salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses and 23,000 hospitalizations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Salmonella contamination can occur in many foods, including melons, cucumbers, chicken, eggs, raw tuna and sprouts, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) warns.
Salmonella-caused illness (salmonellosis) is most common during the summer months because of warm temperatures, delayed refrigeration and the types of foods people enjoy in the summer.
APIC suggests a number of ways to reduce the risk of salmonellosis:
- Prevent cross-contamination by always washing your hands after handling raw meat.
- Keep kitchen surfaces and utensils clean.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before you cut or peel them. Use a scrub brush to reduce contaminants on the rough skin of foods like cantaloupe.
- Use separate cutting boards and knives for uncooked meats and uncooked produce.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Cook food to recommended internal temperatures: whole meats 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F), ground meats 160 degrees F, and poultry 165 degrees F.
- Refrigerate perishable food (including melon) within two hours. Throw away food that sits out longer than two hours.
Call a health care provider if you think you or someone else has salmonellosis. The symptoms include: diarrhea and a fever over 101.5 degrees F; dehydration; bloody stools; diarrhea that lasts three or more days; prolonged vomiting without being able to keep liquids down.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on salmonella.