Salmonella: What it is and How to Prevent Outbreaks

Salmonella is a bacterium found in humans and animals, but most especially in chickens and on their eggs. It is often present in raw meat, especially poultry, but is killed by the cooking process. This is one of the reasons that chicken should always be thoroughly cooked with no trace of pink.

Symptoms of salmonella infection
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhoea and vomiting, stomach cramps, headache, fever, and dehydration. According to the Better Health Channel, it can take up to 72 hours for symptoms to show up after ingestion of salmonella.

The elderly, the very young and people with compromised immunity are among those most at risk. Complications can include septicaemia – although this is rare and occurs more in very vulnerable individuals.

Causes and how it spreads
Salmonellosis is spread in a number of ways. One of the main ones is eating undercooked poultry, or contaminated undercooked or raw eggs. Cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods is another, as is sharing the same food preparation surfaces or utensils for raw and other foods without washing them in between uses.

It can also be spread through contaminated surfaces, such as when an individual with salmonella in their system does not wash their hands properly after visiting the toilet and then touches door handles or other surfaces. If another person comes into contact with the contaminated surface and then touches their own mouth, they may become infected.

Salmonella can also live in pets and wild animals without being obvious, as there are often no symptoms. This makes it important to always wash your hands after touching animals.

Helping to prevent outbreaks

Food handling:
It’s important that restaurant and café owners take all the precautions they can to avoid a salmonellosis outbreak, which could result in temporary closures and loss of business, and also reduce future custom once the news gets out.

This requires a combination of excellent hygiene, common sense, and stringent food-handling practices – such as correct temperatures for food cooking and storage, not using cracked or dirty eggs, storing raw foods away from cooked, and following correct procedures for defrosting.

Food handlers who are infected should also stay off work until they have recovered and are no longer suffering diarrhoea.

Hand washing:
Thorough hand washing and drying is one of the main ways to prevent the spread of infection, and should be practiced before handling food, and after visiting the toilet, handling high-risk foods such as raw meat, or using a tissue or handkerchief. In any case, washing your hands before handling food should always be practiced, even if you feel your hands are clean.

Professional cleaning:
Top notch cleanliness is paramount, and professional restaurant cleaners should be engaged to keep your establishment as hygienic as possible. A good restaurant cleaning service should be able to design a tailored solution for your business, and have the requisite expertise and equipment to ensure your premises is left thoroughly clean and disinfected after each cleaning session.

Contact JAN-PRO for more information or for a no-obligation quote for your restaurant or café.

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