Posts Tagged ‘salmonella’

Chicken and salmonella

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

In the last few days, you may have heard about people getting sick from salmonella found in some chicken. Salmonella are a kind of bacteria that cause the food poisoning, salmonellosis. You can get salmonellosis and other kinds of food poisoning from harmful germs in something you eat or drink.

Salmonellosis can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and headache. If you get salmonellosis during pregnancy, it can cause serious and even life-threatening problems for you and your growing baby.

So far, 300 people in over 18 states have gotten sick.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that the tainted chicken came from three Foster Farms packaging plants in California. The chicken may have the following UDSA inspection numbers: P6137, P6137A and P7632. The USDA is still investigating and hasn’t officially announced a recall yet.

In the meantime, be sure to cook all meats well to help avoid salmonellosis and other kinds of food poisoning. Use a food thermometer and cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 F. Wash hands and clean work space after handling raw chicken and other meats. Learn more tips about handling food safely.

Picnic perils

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

bbq1The 4th of July seems to be when summer BBQs abound. Grills get fired up and freezers are stocked with popsicles. It’s always great to kick back and relax, but it’s also important to remember to keep foods fresh and safe from nasty things like salmonella and e coli.

If you’re part of what is called an “at-risk” or “vulnerable” population, a foodborne illness can be extremely dangerous. Symptoms—such as vomiting, diarrhea and fever—can intensify and the illness can become life-threatening. Those most at risk are the very young (under 1 year); older adults; the immune-compromised (those whose immune systems are less able to fight off harmful bacteria); and women who are pregnant.

Things to keep in mind while enjoying summer cookouts are:
• Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
• Minimize mayonnaise when you’ll be outside for long periods. I have stopped making potato salad with mayo and now use olive oil and lemon juice instead. It keeps much longer.
• Refrigerate any leftovers a.s.a.p., and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.

If you’re pregnant, there are several more things you need to know, like avoiding soft cheeses, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices, and limiting the amount of certain fish you eat. Be sure to read more about foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy on our web site.

BBQs and potato salad

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

bbqHave you started to enjoy the fun foods of picnics and BBQs? Independence Day seems to be when my family feels summer is really here. Our grill was fired up yesterday and the freezer was stocked with popsicles. It’s always great to kick back and relax, but it’s also important to remember to keep foods fresh and safe from nasty things like salmonella and e coli.

Things to keep in mind while enjoying summer cookouts are:
• Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
• Minimize mayonnaise when you’ll be outside for long periods. I have stopped making potato salad with mayo and now use olive oil and lemon juice instead. It keeps much longer.
• Refrigerate any leftovers a.s.a.p., and never eat cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.

If you’re pregnant, there are several more things you need to know, like avoiding soft cheeses, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices, and limiting the amount of certain fish you eat.  Be sure to read more about food-borne risks in pregnancy on our web site.

Happy summer!

Pet safety – salmonella in dog food

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

isa-riding-lolaAt our house, Lola isn’t just our pet. She’s a member of the family and my little girl’s best friend. The two of them get into all sorts of high jinks! Having Lola in our lives has been nothing short of wonderful. But there are still certain things I need to do to keep us all healthy and safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a recent outbreak in salmonella infections, especially in young children, was linked to dog food. Salmonella infection is caused by bacteria. It can lead to diarrhea, fever, nausea and stomachache for several days. Some people may even need to get hospital treatment. It’s not that people are eating the dog food. Instead, people are likely getting sick either by touching the spoiled dog food or by playing with a dog that has salmonella infection. The dog food in question was made by Diamond Pet Foods and has been recalled. If you have a pet and are pregnant or have children at home, there are things you can do to stay healthy and safe. One thing you can do is learn more about what kinds of pets and other animals are OK to have in your home. Some pets may be fine to have at home so long as you take certain steps to care for your pets and yourself. Other animals may not be OK to have at home when pregnant or if you have children. Also, be sure everyone washes their hands after handling an animal. Animals can carry bacteria or certain illnesses. Additionally, feed your pet in an area away from the kitchen or where you prepare meals. This helps lessen the chance that any bacteria from your pet’s food can be carried to areas where you make or eat food. Wash your hands after feeding your pet, too. Lastly, keep kids away from your pet’s litter box, food and water bowls. My little girl has always been fascinated with Lola’s dog bowls and I’m not sure why. But several times, I’ve caught her playing with Lola’s food pebbles, to which I immediately grab my little girl and wash her hands. If only I can get her as interested in putting her toys away!

Duck, duck, dodge

Monday, April 16th, 2012

ducklingIt’s warm and sunny today and folks are taking their little tikes out to look at flowers and baby birds. It’s so sweet to see those fuzzy yellow ducklings… But I was just reminded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that these adorable fuzz balls carry salmonella and we as parents need to keep our children away from them.

Salmonella infection is a bacterial disease. Most salmonella infections come from food sources, such as poultry, meat and eggs. But salmonella infection can be linked to reptiles or birds.

According to Jennifer Mitchell of the CDC, “Those most at risk include infants and children younger than 5, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Young children are especially likely to develop a Salmonella infection because they love to pick up, snuggle, and kiss the chicks and ducklings.” I know it may be tempting to cuddle these cuties, but it’s not really safe for your kiddies or for you if you’re pregnant.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, nausea, fever and abdominal cramps that last for several days. It’s not a good time for them or for you.  So, if you want to go feed the ducks, consider standing on a bridge and tossing the food into the water. You can watch the duckies swim while keeping a safe distance.

Eggnog anyone?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

eggnogEggnog is a favorite holiday drink and if you’re pregnant you can still have it. You just have to make sure it is pasteurized!  Most eggnog sold in stores is made from pasteurized egg product (check the label just to be sure).  But it is best to avoid homemade eggnog.  Homemade eggnog is often made with raw eggs and alcohol—two things you definitely want to avoid this holiday season.

Eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella and cause salmonellosis.  Salmonellosis is a food-borne infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, fever, and abdominal cramps that last for several days. Occasionally a pregnant woman passes the infection to her baby. After birth, the infant may develop diarrhea, fever and, less often, meningitis.

If you are at a party with homemade eggnog and are looking for a fun and yummy substitution, you can revisit some of our older blog posts to see some “mocktail” and “bodacious beverage” recipes.  Some of these are so good you may start drinking them year-round!

For more food safety tips that may be helpful this holiday season, check out our website.

Peanut butter recall

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Smucker’s® is recalling its Natural Peanut Butter Chunky because it may have Salmonella, bacteria that cause salmonellosis infection. People with salmonellosis can get sick and may have diarrhea, fever, vomiting and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.

The recall is for Smucker’s® Natural Peanut Butter Chunky with the following details:

• Purchased between November 8 – 17, 2011
• UPC 5150001701 (located on the side of the jar’s label below the bar code)
• Production Codes 1307004 and 1308004
• Best-If-Used-By dates August 3, 2012 and August 4, 2012
• Chunky product only (not creamy)

In most healthy adults, symptoms can last for days. But pregnant women, babies and others with weakened immune systems can sometimes become seriously ill from Salmonella infection.  Occasionally, a pregnant woman can pass a Salmonella infection on to her baby. After birth, her baby can get diarrhea, fever and, less frequently, meningitis after birth. Meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain.

Visit the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website for more information on the peanut butter recall.

Don’t play in the water!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

flood-waterMany of us on the east coast are dealing with flooded basements and yards in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Today the sun is shining, it’s warm and the outdoors is inviting – disaster not withstanding. The kids aren’t back in school yet and may be quite tempted to go out and splash in all the water that has suddenly arrived. Don’t let them!

That pool of potential fun that is in your yard is likely contaminated with everything that you and your neighbors store in your garage: pesticides; weed killer; solvents; gasoline… And, yes, sewage is out there, too.  If you live “up stream” from any commercial or industrial areas, there could be agricultural or industrial products in the water, too. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Floodwater often contains infectious organisms, including intestinal bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella; Hepatitis A Virus, tetanus…”

Keep your children away from flooded areas. If you are out cleaning up your yard or helping others, be sure to wear gloves and boots. Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water every time you take a break, even if you don’t think you have come in contact with the water.

To learn more about safe clean up, read this information from OSHA.

Dismal diarrhea

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

If you have kids, sooner or later you’ll be faced with the delights of dealing with diarrhea – runny, watery poop. It’s caused by all sorts of yucky things from contaminated water or food, to bacteria or viruses or parasites. Antibiotics that treat one problem can give another by breaking down all the good bacteria that lives in the bowel and letting the bad bacteria breed. (Probiotics can help prevent this backlash.)

How do you deal with this miserable condition? First of all, call your child’s health care provider if there is any pain, fever or blood in the stool. If these don’t exist but the diarrhea continues for five days or more, call the doc.

Give your little one plenty of liquids, especially ones that are electrolyte-balanced. Popsicles are nice treats, but they also provide liquid. Stay away from high-sugar fruit juices and sodas.

As mentioned above, probiotics can help regulate the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.  Talk with your child’s provider about what probiotic would be best. Some powders can be mixed into foods, breastmilk or formula.

Milk products can irritate sensitive digestive tracts, so if diarrhea continues more than a couple of days, try eliminating milk products from your child’s diet for a while. Then reintroduce yogurt because it’s loaded with good bacteria. And the bland BRAT diet (interesting name…) gives the irritated innards time to rest and regroup. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and dry toast.

We’re entering into BBQ season with the return of warm weather. It’s important to keep foods cool and protected from E. coli and Salmonella.  Follow good food safety guidelines and have fun.

Milk is milk…right? Wrong.

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

milkHomogenized? Pasteurized? Are they the same thing?

Recently, an expectant Mom wrote to us asking if it is okay that she drinks homogenized milk. While homogenized milk is fine to drink when you are pregnant, the more important question is whether the milk is pasteurized. So, then, it begs the question…what’s the difference between the two?

Milk naturally contains fat. It is normal for the fat and the milk to separate – they don’t naturally remain blended. Homogenization is a process that keeps the fat and the milk together (not separated). Otherwise, when you would drink a glass of milk, it would have to be stirred first or you would drink lumps of fat (not too appetizing!). Homogenization is a process where the two parts are able to mix together and stay together.

Pasteurization, on the other hand, is the process where milk (or any other dairy product or even juice) is heated to a point where bacteria are killed. This is very important for pregnant women.  It kills the bacteria that could cause a number of infections and potentially harm your baby.  Non-pasteurized foods/juice/milk may cause listeriosis, which can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.  You can read more about it on our website and in another blog post

Now, if you live on a farm or have access to fresh cow’s milk, it will not be homogenized or pasteurized. There is a debate as to whether or not this milk is safe for pregnant women to drink because the argument is that if the cow is healthy and is not fed any antibiotics or hormones, then the milk will be safe to drink. Although this argument seems sound, one would have to be absolutely sure that the cow is absolutely healthy.  If you don’t have a crystal ball, how would you know this?  It is logical to avoid it all together and simply take the safe route – drink pasteurized milk.  

One more thing…there is pasteurized, flash pasteurized and ultra pasteurized.  Are they the same?  Well, the result is the same (killing bacteria and making it safe to eat or drink), but the method of getting there is slightly different (supposedly). In flash or ultra pasteurized, the heating is done even faster – in a ‘flash”- with the goal to preserve even more taste and freshness of the product than with ordinary pasteurization. Whether or not this happens, we can’t really say. We can say that any of these pasteurization methods are fine. You might want to read the fact sheet that the American Dietetic Association endorses called Debunking Dairy Food Myths  (just scroll down to click on the PDF).

So, now you can go ahead and drink your juice and milk with confidence. But just remember, if it’s not pasteurized, don’t drink it.

Updated December 2015.