How to Prevent Salmonella (2022)

Taking steps to prevent getting a salmonella infectioncan save you and your family from being one of the 1.2 million people in the United States who contract this illness each year. The bacteria responsible for salmonella is spread by contaminated food and by handling animals such as pet turtles that carry it in their feces. Avoid raw or undercooked meat and eggs and ensure raw meat is handled separately from other foods when preparing a meal.

Preventing infection is especially important for those most at risk of a severe illness, including young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

While most people get diarrhea that runs its course in a few days, approximately 450 people die every year from acute salmonellosis.

There is no vaccine for salmonella and you can catch the illness multiple times, so it is important to avoid contact with the bacteria.

How to Prevent Salmonella (1)

Transmission

Salmonellosis is an illness that includes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The bacteria are spread in the feces.Some people are healthy but are carriers of the bacteria. Use these tips so you don't give salmonella to others or get it from them:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet,changing diapers, and before preparing food.
  • A person who has salmonellosis should not prepare food or pour water for others until they have had no symptoms for 48 hours.
  • A person who has salmonellosis should not return to work, child care, or school until they have had no symptoms for 48 hours.
  • Don't go swimming if you have had diarrhea in the past 24 hours.

How Salmonella Is Treated

Food Preparation and Handling

There are many food handling practices that are aimed at preventingsalmonella infectionfrom food. These practices are important while eating, cooking at home, and preparing food in restaurants.

Clean

  • Wash your hands before and after you handle food items.
  • Wash kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water after preparing each food item.
  • It is better to use disposable paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces than sponges or cloth towels. If you use cloth towels, they should be washed in hot water in a washing machine after each use.
  • Thoroughly wash produce before consuming.
  • Peel and discard outer leaves or rinds of fruits and vegetables.
  • Scrub hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, if you want to eat the skin.

Separate

  • When shopping, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from the other items. Store them separately in the refrigerator.
  • After contact with raw meat or poultry, wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, utensils, plates, bowls, etc. with soap and water immediately. It is especially important that you don't use unwashed utensils and other items for food that will be served uncooked or for the meat once it has been cooked.
  • It is best to have separate cutting boards designated for raw meat and for produce as cleaning may not remove all of the bacteria.
  • Don't work with raw poultry or meat and handle an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.

Cook

  • Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly before eating. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or raw unpasteurized milk. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods such as homemade hollandaise sauce, homemade salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, eggnog, and frostings.
  • 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. Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle.

Chill

  • Keep refrigerators clean and cold (40 F or below for refrigerators).
  • Cover and refrigerate produce you have cut.
  • Read and follow label instructions such as "Keep Refrigerated" or "Use By" (a certain date).
  • Keep prepared fruit salads or other cut produce items in the refrigerator until just before serving. Discard cut produce items if they have been out of the refrigerator for more than four hours.

General

  • Mother's milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems. Wash your hands before breastfeeding your child.
  • Don't drink untreated water that could be contaminated by animal waste.

Animal and Pet Contact

While animals may transmit salmonella to anyone, there are groups who are at higher risk and should avoid any contact with animals that commonly carry the bacteria. These groups include infants, children age 5 and younger, adults over age 65, and people with decreased immune function (HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients).

(Video) Got a backyard flock? Here’s how to prevent Salmonella

The highest-risk animals arereptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes), amphibians (frogs, salamanders), and live poultry (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys).

Other animals that may transmit salmonella include pet birds, rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice), hedgehogs, farm animals, dogs, cats, and horses. The bacteria are primarily found in their feces, but their fur, feathers, bedding, toys, food, feeders, cages, or enclosures will also harbor the germs. These animals can be completely healthy and still carry the bacteria.

Use these tips to reduce your risk and protect people in higher-risk groups:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after any contact with animals, their enclosures, or their feces. While this applies to any animal or pet, it is especially a concern with reptiles, amphibians, or birds.
  • People in high-risk groups should avoid direct or even indirect contact with reptiles, amphibians, and live poultry. These animals should not be kept as pets in households that have membersinthe high-risk groups, or at daycarefacilities, elder care facilities, or medical facilities.
  • Don't allow high-risk animals into areas where you commonly eat or drink. Don't eat, drink, or smoke while around those animals.
  • Petting zoos or farm visits are best reserved for children over age 5, with supervision.
  • Adults in high-risk groups should not clean any pet items or animal waste without wearing disposable gloves. Children age 5 and under should not be given such tasks.
  • When washing pets or their items, try to do so outdoors. Do not discard the water in a sink that is used for food preparation. Use bleach to disinfect any sink, tub, or toilet afterward.
  • If your child is age 5 or younger, supervise the child around animals. Don't allow contact with your child's face or kissing. Assist your child in handwashing after handling an animal.

Backyard Farming

As keeping chickens and enjoying homegrown eggs is popular, it is important to understand the risks of salmonella from these activities. You should only buy live poultry or chicks from hatcheries certified by the USDA National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA NPIP). It's best not to get your poultry from show breeders or other backyard farmers.

Use these tips to avoid getting salmonella:

  • Clean your coop regularly, wearing gloves and shoe protectors or shoes you only use in the coop.
  • Change the food and water daily.
  • Wash your hands after handling a chicken or collecting eggs and do so either outdoors or using a sink that isn't used for food preparation.
  • Clean feeding bowls and other items outdoors or in a sink not used for food preparation, disinfecting it with bleach.
  • Don't eat, drink, or smoke around your birds.
  • Keep your birds out of the house and away from areas, including outdoor patios, where you prepare or eat food.
  • Don't allow children under age 5 around your birds and supervise other children and adults so they handle the birds safely.
  • If any bird is sick, separate it from the rest of the birds and contact your veterinarian.
  • Ensure your birds get all recommended vaccines.
  • If you use chicken manure as garden compost, it must be cured for at least 45 days before use.
  • Don’t kissbackyard poultry,or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

Use these tips forhomegrown egg safety:

  • Collect the eggs each morning and afternoon.
  • Washing eggs after collection isn't recommended as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that washing in cold water can pull bacteria into the eggs. Clean them outdoors with a brush or cloth.
  • Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  • Refrigerate eggs in two hours or less.
  • If you are selling your eggs, follow all local regulations and licensing requirements.
  • When eating homegrown eggs, cook them thoroughly and don't consume raw eggs.

Identifying Outbreaks

Public health departments and the CDC require medical facilities to report cases of salmonellosis so they can identify and track outbreaks. Clinical laboratories send isolates of Salmonella to public health laboratories so the specific type can be determined and compared with other Salmonella in the community. If many cases occur at the same time, it may mean that a restaurant, food, or water supply has a problem which needs correction by the public health department. While many people don't seek medical care for a bout of salmonellosis that runs a typical course, those who do will help with this monitoring for outbreaks.

Information on outbreaks can be seen on the CDC site.

Examples of recent outbreaks include those due to shell eggs, coconut, chicken salad, raw sprouts, kratom, pet guinea pigs, and pet turtles. You can drill down to see the specifics for outbreaks.

If you hear any news reports of recalls of food due to concern for salmonella or foodborne illnesses, check to see whether you have bought the recalled products. Do not consume them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you prevent Salmonella poisoning after eating food that might be infected?

    No, but you can certainly prevent complications from Salmonella poisoning by knowing when the illness requires medical care. Call your doctor if:

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    • You have symptoms that last for more than a few days.
    • Your diarrhea becomes severe.
    • There is blood in your stool.
    • You have a fever over 101 degrees for more than one day.

    A doctor also should manage the care of infants, people over 65, and anyone who has a weakened immune system or inflammatory bowel disease as soon as Salmonella infection symptoms begin.

  • Should you wash fresh eggs to prevent salmonella poisoning?

    No. This could actually encourage the spread of Salmonella, That said, chickens lay eggs from the same orifice they poop out of, so you'll want to scrub off any obvious feces or dirt with gloved hands. You can use a brush, a cloth, or even very fine sandpaper to do this. Afterwards, store the eggs in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.

  • How can you kill Salmonella in food?

    By preparing food properly. Certain foods should be cooked to specific temperatures in order to kill any microbes they contain. You can use a food thermometer inserted into the thickest parts of the following to make sure they reach a safe temperatures before you serve them:

    • Beef, veal, lamb, pork, ham, and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees (and allowed to rest for three minutes before carving or eating).
    • Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees.
    • Egg dishes (frittatas, for example) should be cooked to 160 degrees.
    • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), including ground chicken and ground turkey, should be cooked to 165 degrees.
    • Casseroles should be cooked to 165 degrees.

9 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella and Food

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella Infection. Prevention

  4. United States Department of Agriculture. National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keeping Backyard Chickens and Other Poultry. Wash Your Hands and Take Other Steps to Reduce Yours Chances of GettingSalmonella

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Keeping Backyard Chickens and Other Poultry. Safe handling tips for eggs from backyard poultry.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to Report a Foodborne Illness - Health Departments

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Salmonella.

  9. Foodsafety.gov. Salmonella and food.

Additional Reading

  • Keeping Backyard Poultry. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/index.html.
  • Salmonella Infection. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/salmonella.html.
  • Salmonella. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/
  • Salmonella Questions and Answers. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/foodborne-illness-and-disease/salmonella-questions-and-answers.
  • Whiley H, Ross K. Salmonella and Eggs: From Production to Plate. Tchounwou PB, ed.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2015;12(3):2543-2556. doi:10.3390/ijerph120302543.
(Video) How do you prevent salmonella?

How to Prevent Salmonella (2)

By Rod Brouhard, EMT-P
Rod Brouhard is an emergency medical technician paramedic (EMT-P), journalist, educator, and advocate for emergency medical service providers and patients.

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(Video) How to Prevent Salmonella Poisoning

FAQs

What is salmonella and how can it be prevented? ›

Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including chicken, beef, pork, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and even processed foods. Some people are more likely to get an infection and serious illness. You can take steps to prevent infection, such as following the clean, separate, cook, and chill guidelines.

What can you do for salmonella? ›

Management and Treatment

You usually don't treat salmonella with medication. If you're severely ill or at high risk for complications, your healthcare provider will treat you with antibiotics. If you have severe diarrhea, you may need to be hospitalized. You should drink plenty of fluids.

What is the best way to treat salmonella? ›

Most people recover without specific treatment. Antibiotics are typically used only to treat people with severe illness. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as diarrhea lasts. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the person needs to be hospitalized.

How do you prevent salmonella from eggs? ›

Keep your eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or colder, which should be the temperature of a properly functioning refrigerator. Discard cracked or dirty eggs. Consider using pasteurized* eggs and egg products, which are widely available.

What can cause salmonella? ›

Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called Salmonella, Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States.

How can you get salmonella? ›

Salmonella is spread by the fecal-oral route and can be transmitted by • food and water, • by direct animal contact, and • rarely from person-to-person. An estimated 94% of salmonellosis is transmitted by food. Humans usually become infected by eating foods contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

Can Salmonella be killed by cooking? ›

Thorough cooking can kill salmonella. But when health officials warn people not to eat potentially contaminated food, or when a food is recalled because of salmonella risk, that means don't eat that food, cooked or not, rinsed or not. The stakes are too high.

Where can Salmonella be found? ›

Where is Salmonella found? Salmonella is found in domestic and wild animals, including poultry, wild birds, swine, cattle, and rodents. Reptiles such as iguanas, bearded dragons, turtles, and domestic pets such as chicks, dogs and cats may harbour the bacteria. Humans are carriers of certain types of salmonella.

Is there a vaccine for Salmonella? ›

At present, the only licensed live oral attenuated salmonella vaccine is Ty21a, (produced using chemical mutagenesis). Consequently, it carries several mutations including a deficiency in UDP-galactose-4-epimerase activity.

How do you check for Salmonella? ›

Salmonella infection can be detected by testing a stool sample. However, most people have recovered from their symptoms by the time the test results return. If your health care provider suspects that you have a salmonella infection in your bloodstream, testing a sample of your blood for the bacteria may be needed.

How do you test for Salmonella in food? ›

Rapid Methods for Salmonella Detection

Lateral Flow Tests are immunoassays for detecting food pathogens. Acting as mini-laboratories, they include a built-in control reaction and definitive results are delivered in as little as 20 minutes, following that standard ISO 6579-1 enrichment method.

What happens when you eat Salmonella? ›

What are the symptoms of salmonella infection? Fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody are typical. Nausea, vomiting and headaches can also occur. Symptoms usually start within several hours but can take a few days to appear.

How do restaurants prevent Salmonella? ›

Keep raw and cooked food products separated at all times. Keep raw chicken and meat separate from other types of raw ingredients (such as vegetables). Sanitize and clean food prep areas as often as possible. Always use a food thermometer.

Is there a vaccine for Salmonella? ›

At present, the only licensed live oral attenuated salmonella vaccine is Ty21a, (produced using chemical mutagenesis). Consequently, it carries several mutations including a deficiency in UDP-galactose-4-epimerase activity.

Which practice can help prevent a salmonella infection quizlet? ›

Wash hands both before and after preparing food.

What are the five ways Salmonella is transmitted? ›

Salmonella is spread by the fecal-oral route and can be transmitted by • food and water, • by direct animal contact, and • rarely from person-to-person. An estimated 94% of salmonellosis is transmitted by food. Humans usually become infected by eating foods contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

Can Salmonella be killed by cooking? ›

Thorough cooking can kill salmonella. But when health officials warn people not to eat potentially contaminated food, or when a food is recalled because of salmonella risk, that means don't eat that food, cooked or not, rinsed or not. The stakes are too high.

Where is Salmonella found in food? ›

Foods Linked to U.S. Outbreaks of Salmonellosis

Past U.S. outbreaks of salmonellosis have been associated with meat products, poultry products, raw or undercooked eggs and dough, dairy products, fruits, leafy greens, raw sprouts, fresh vegetables, nut butters and spreads, pet foods and treats.

Where does Salmonella grow? ›

Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through stool (feces). Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.

What disease is caused by Salmonella? ›

Most types of Salmonella cause an illness called salmonellosis, which is the focus of this website. Some other types of Salmonella cause typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever.

Is Salmonella a virus or bacteria? ›

Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called Salmonella, Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States.

How fast do Salmonella symptoms start? ›

Symptoms usually start within 6 hours–6 days after infection and last 4–7 days.

Which is a way to prevent contamination of hot food? ›

To prevent this: Wash hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets. Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

What is the key factor in the prevention of bacterial growth? ›

You can see that temperature control and time are the key factors in preventing bacterial growth.

How can you prevent food borne illnesses? ›

Preventing foodborne illness by following these four easy steps: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
  1. Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
  2. Separate: Don't cross-contaminate.
  3. Cook: Cook to proper temperatures.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate promptly.
2 Dec 2016

What temp kills Salmonella? ›

Heat your meat

Poultry naturally contains Salmonella, which you can kill by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F – and don't rely on guesswork. Measure the temperature with a food thermometer to be sure.

Where is Salmonella most commonly found in the world? ›

Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. They are prevalent in food animals such as poultry, pigs, and cattle; and in pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles such as turtles.

How long does Salmonella live on food? ›

Most Salmonella bacteria live on dry surfaces for up to 4 hours before they're no longer infectious. But Salmonella's survival rate also depends on its species. A 2003 study found that Salmonella enteritidis can survive for 4 days on a heavily contaminated surface.

Videos

1. Best Way to Prevent Salmonella in Your Chickens
(Maritime Gardening)
2. How to Cook Your Eggs to Avoid Getting Salmonella
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3. Salmonella - a quick introduction and overview
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4. What is Salmonella? How can we control and reduce it?
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5. Recent Salmonella Outbreak: How To Protect Yourself | Better | NBC News
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6. How salmonella spreads from farm to table
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