Foodborne Illnesses / Salmonella /

How to Prevent a Salmonella Infection

Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal, which is why it is important to take steps to prevent foodborne illness. In general, safe cooking and preparation of food can kill existing Salmonella bacteria and prevent bacteria from spreading. The USDA provides the following recommendations for preventing salmonellosis.

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often.

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
  • Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go to the next item.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate.

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods in your grocery shopping cart and in your refrigerator.
  • If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Always wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops, and utensils with hot soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

COOK: Cook to safe temperatures.

Use a clean food thermometer when measuring the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other foods to make sure they have reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145oF as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
  • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160oF as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165oF as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Stuffed poultry is not recommended. Cook stuffing separately to 165oF.
  • Cook egg dishes and casseroles to 160oF.
  • Fish should reach 145oF as measured with a food thermometer.
  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravy to a boil when reheating.
  • Reheat other leftovers thoroughly to at least 165oF.

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly.

  • Keep food safe at home. Refrigerate promptly and properly. Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90oF).
  • Freezers should register 0oF or below, and refrigerators 40oF or below.
  • Thaw food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Foods should not be thawed at room temperature. Foods thawed in the microwave or in cold water must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature immediately after thawing.
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quick cooking in the refrigerator.

The USDA also recommends against washing meat and poultry prior to cooking, a practice generally accepted as standard practice decades ago when people slaughtered and butchered their own food. Research conducted by the USDA shows that washing meat or poultry in a sink can cause bacteria to splash on surfaces. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness.

The CDC provides additional guidelines for safe interactions with animals, including those at petting zoos, farms, and fairs.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap after touching pets and other animals, or their food water, poop, belongings such as toys and bowls, or habitats such as beds, cages, tanks, coops, stalls, and barns.
  • Don’t put your hands in your mouth after petting or playing with animals. Keep other items that have come into contact with animals out of your mouth.
  • Don’t kiss cats, dogs, chickens, turtles, lizards, or other pets or animals.
  • Don’t let children younger than age five, people with weakened immune systems, or older adults touch high-risk animals like turtles, frogs, chickens or ducks, or their belongings or habitats.
  • Never eat or drink around high-risk animals or in areas where they live and roam.
  • Clean your pet’s bed, cage, terrarium, or aquarium, and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors. If you must clean your pet’s habitat indoors, use a bathtub or large sink that can be cleaned and disinfected. Avoid using the kitchen sink, if possible.
  • Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. By keeping your pet healthy, you also help keep yourself and your family healthy.