Salmonella are bacteria and a common cause of foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning). Infections caused by Salmonella result in more hospitalizations and deaths than any other foodborne illness in the United States. In recent years, large outbreaks of illness caused by Salmonella-contaminated eggs and poultry products have made headlines. Salmonella has been found in many foods, including ground beef, turkey, pork, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and peanut butter – to name a few. Although contaminated food is the usual way of getting Salmonella, the bacteria also can be passed from animals to people. Older adults, infants, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a serious illness.
- CDC estimates 1 million people in the United States get sick from eating food contaminated with Salmonella.
- Illness usually lasts 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment.
- In rare cases, people may become seriously ill with Salmonella.
- About 400 people die each year from Salmonella infection.
- Children are the most likely to get food poisoning from Salmonella.
- Salmonella causes $365 million in direct medical costs annually.
People should not eat raw or undercooked eggs. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods, such as homemade Hollandaise sauce, Caesar and other homemade salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings.
Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces. Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry. Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly-cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli infections.
If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don't hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
- Be aware that some foods and exposures increase the risk of Salmonella infection.
- Be careful when preparing food for infants, older adults, and people with weak immune systems.
- Don’t eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
- After touching raw poultry or meat, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching children or items children put in their mouths, such as toys, bottles, and pacifiers.
- Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw poultry or meat.