Illness can be avoided by proper food preparation

Over the past several weeks, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and local public health agencies have received 26 reports in 19 counties of illness linked to a relatively uncommon strain of Salmonella.

“Salmonella is commonly the result of improper handling or preparation of food,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “This particular strain is often associated with improper cooking of poultry or eggs.”

While the symptoms of Salmonella infection are similar to those of Cyclospora infection (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, etc.), these recently reported cases of Salmonellosis are not related to the cyclosporiasis outbreak.

Especially in the summer, when chicken is on the grill and egg-containing treats like homemade ice cream are common, it’s important to take extra care to keep food safe.

• Grill chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers should also be reheated to 165 degrees F. The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product.

• When making salads containing eggs, like potato or macaroni salad, be certain the eggs are thoroughly cooked and the yolks are firm.

• Do not use raw eggs to make homemade ice cream. You can make homemade ice cream safely by using pasteurized egg products, or by tempering and cooking the eggs in a hot custard ice cream base.

• Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Whether in your car or on the picnic table, illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours and during the summer heat, that time is cut down to within one hour.

The best way to avoid all illnesses, including food borne illnesses, is by frequently washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, before preparing food, and after playing with pets or visiting a petting zoo.

For more information about foodborne illnesses, visit this site.

Note: Counties included in the case reports include Allamakee (1), Black Hawk (1), Buena Vista (1), Cerro Gordo (4), Des Moines (1), Humboldt (1), Jasper (1), Kossuth (1), Madison (1), Mahaska (1), Marshall (1), Muscatine (1), Polk (3), Scott (1), Sioux (1), Story (1), Union (1), Webster (3), Woodbury (1).