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Is salmonella going to get me?

Updated on June 18, 2011


Is salmonella going to get you? The only straight up answer is one that appears wishy-washy and that is maybe. The recent outbreaks of salmonella infection in tomatoes and other products across the United States have many people asking this question.

There are ways that you can improve your odds and protect yourself but first let's take a look at what salmonella is.

Salmonella is a bacterium that is found occurring naturally in the intestines of animals, (especially poultry and swine), birds, reptiles, some pets and some humans. It also can be found in the environment. If you consume food that is contaminated by Salmonella you can become ill with salmonellosis.

Okay now you know what it is, what can you do to prevent getting it?

Basic hygiene will help with food preparation, washing your hands and your food when you bring it home. Keeping the food preparation area clean will help.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you wash the food, for example, tomatoes, you are not going to get rid of the infection because it has gone through the skin of the fruit and is now inside. No matter how hard you scrub it will still be there.

Hygiene helps but is not foolproof.

The most effective way to prevent infection is to not consume the infected item in the first place; sound obvious, but how do you do that?

You can subscribe to email alerts from either the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Canadian Food Inspections Agency (CFIA), or both, I do both. It gives you a wider range of information and food crosses borders.

You will get an email whenever either agency sends out an alert. The only trouble with this is that in many cases the food is already in the market place when the alert goes out. It is still faster than waiting for the news, though.

The most effective means to prevent you and your family from consuming foods that have been contaminated by salmonella is to buy in-season local produce and to buy from a local grower as often as possible.

The most effective way to protect yourself from salmonella and keep it from getting you is to grow it yourself. Now this will be a problem for many people and they will need to find other ways to obtain fresh food.

One is to grow it in a community garden; others are to buy direct from the local grower through a community sponsored agriculture project, a farmers’ market or farm gate sales.

When you either grow it yourself or buy direct from a farmer, with whom you have developed an ongoing relationship, you become familiar with how the food was grown and how it traveled from where is was grown to where you bought it.

This familiarity may be you best protection.

So will salmonella get you, well the answer is, unfortunately, still maybe, but you can significantly reduce the chances that it will do so by following the words that are laid out in this hub and the links within.

eating seasonal


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