Julie Buck

Julie Buck

It hits when we least expect it. Maybe our sleep was off, we didn’t eat well or drink enough, or the sun was a bit too bright. That feeling of general unease, discomfort, or poor digestion. It could be nothing but also may be illness from the most common foodborne pathogen, Salmonella. This bacterium is present on reptiles, birds, baby chicks, pet feces, raw meat or poultry.

Symptoms of contact may include abdominal cramps and tenderness, fever, and diarrhea. A child might show these symptoms of gastroenteritis in a range from 12 to 72 hours.

Kids under 4 are 4.5 times more likely to acquire bacterial infections from food compared to adults. By being aware and changing our food handling practices, we can have a summer without Salmonella.

Where is Salmonella found and how is it prevented? Raw or undercooked eggs, poultry and meat. Cook these protein rich foods to a safe internal temperature; eggs to poultry to 165°F. Always use a food thermometer.

Buy and consume only pasteurized milk and dairy products. No raw cookie dough, tasting cake mixing bowl spoons, or raw egg beverages.

Raw produce: Start with rinsing all fresh raw fruits and vegetables just before eating. No special rinse product is necessary.

Some food handling behaviors put us at more risk for Salmonella food illness. Don’t rinse raw poultry. It is going to be cooked to at least 165°F to destroy Salmonella. Anything the raw poultry touches, including your kitchen sink, may be contaminated by spreading germs.

Wash your hands before and after all meal preparations. Always use soap, warm water and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds to make a lather. Rinse with warm water and dry hands with a paper towel. Why not cloth? Cloth towels are economical because they can be washed and sanitized when hot water is used in the washing machine and when dried in a dryer. Cloth towels can also maintain the pathogens rubbed onto them during the hand drying process before they are washed. When you can use a paper towel, please do.

Help young children wash their hands, making sure to get in between fingers. Wash hands with soap and warm water after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.

Besides washing hands with soap, wash kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat and poultry.

By practicing these food safety behaviors, we can prevent Salmonella from ruining our summer fun.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, who is employed as a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208) 785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.