Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Multi-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg Infects 524 Americans

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has reported, as of April 7, 524 persons from 25 states infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg since March 1, 2013.

Of the infected population, 37 percent have been hospitalized and about 76 percent have been reported from California; no deaths have been reported so far.

Local state and federal officials investigated the outbreak by utilizing epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations and postulated that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken might be the cause of the outbreak. These strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to common antibiotics used to treat these outbreaks making it difficult to prevent and pose a risk of increased hospitalization in the future.

Salmonella is a bacteria that is commonly found in both cold and warm-blooded animals and belongs to the same family as Escherichia that also includes E. coli, another bacteria responsible for food-bourne illnesses. While the infection rarely kills victims, its common symptoms of this bacteria include but not limited to vomiting; diarrhea; fever; and cramps. It’s important to note the children; the elderly; and individuals with compromised immune systems are at high risk and can lead to hospitalizations.

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While Foster Farms may be the likely source and may be to blame, it isn’t uncommon to find strains of Salmonella bacteria living in your uncooked meats. It cannot be stressed enough to take safety precautions and practice safe food preparation to prevent such infections in your household.

Careless precautions and preparation can spell a recipe for disaster. Here are some tips and steps to take in keeping you and your close ones safe:

Cook your meats to an adequately safe minimum temperature. Sounds obvious, but not many people take this seriously as it may look like you’ve killed all the harmful bacteria but some colonies may have survived waiting for their attack.

Different types of meats have their own unique minimum safe temperature for consumption. While that juicy medium-rare hamburger sounds good, you cannot implement the same style of cooking to poultry; you have to cook poultry all the way.

Grounded meats also have to cooked thoroughly as the surface area of the meats has increased significantly and leaves a greater risk of contamination if not handled correctly.

Consult CDC’s website for adequate minimum cooking temperatures for consumption.

Properly clean your cooking utensils and any medium that makes contact with your food. Going from cutting beef to chicken without washing your knife in between enables bacteria to transfer from one type of meat to another, especially with cutting boards.

A good technique that can be helpful  is if you don’t know if you’ve sanitized your equipment, sanitize it again. It is always better to be safe than to suffer the consequences.

Finally, wash your hands thoroughly. I see many people wash their hands with cold water and sometimes without soap. This will definitely put them and others around them at risk and you could’ve prevented it in less than a minute.

To properly prepare, wash your hands with adequately hot water that is tolerable and scrub with soap up to your elbows for at least 20 seconds; rinse your arms and hands well; and dry your hands.

While it is certain that bacteria will always exist around us, we can take preventative measures such as these steps to protect ourselves from danger.

The five-second rule also poses a danger as microorganisms can transfer to your food in less than five-seconds and may thrive in your warm body.

So when in doubt, throw it out. It is literally the little things in life that makes a huge difference.

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