Head in Toilet - © Jan Andersen Photography

Salmonella Outbreak Spans Six Provinces

My usual sources brought news this morning of a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) warning about a Salmonella outbreak effecting 6 provinces from BC to Quebec. PHAC says the source of the outbreak remains a mystery, but every effort is being made to track it down…

Salmonella bacterium - micrographThe 63 lab-confirmed Salmonella cases already on record are distributed as follows: British Columbia (23), Alberta (10), Saskatchewan (eight) Manitoba (10), Ontario (10) and Quebec (two). These cases include 18 patients who’ve been hospitalized and two who’ve died. While there’s little geographically to indicate the source of the infection, there’s just as little demographically: victims are aged 2 to 87, and are almost evenly split between male and female.

I’ve posted in the past about the more common food borne illnesses. Salmonella (pictured at left) is one of the worst.

What PHAC is recommending…

The Public Health Agency is reminding consumers to follow food safety guidelines when preparing food at home. That means following basic kitchen cleanliness rules and observing proper food storage and handling procedures.

Although the official Danger Zone for food storage temperatures (where bacteria are most likely to thrive) is 40 F to 140 F, I’ve always erred on the side of caution.

Perhaps the most important thing to do is wash your hands (or change your gloves) frequently when preparing food. Always wash hands thoroughly or change gloves when switching between preparing Meats and Veggies. Also, wash your tools and cooking vessels – especially cutting boards – between tasks.

Wash all your Fruits and Veggies with a solution of Baking Soda and Water, followed by a good rinse with cold Water.

Always cook foods until they reach the recommended minimum safe temperature:

  • Whole Poultry, Breasts or Thighs, or Ground Poultry: 165°F
  • Hamburgers, Ground Beef: 160°F
  • Beef roasts or steaks: Medium rare 145°F; Medium 160°F; Well-done 170°F
  • Pork: 160°F
  • Fish: 145°F

Leftover Turkey - © lifehack.orgImproperly stored or cooked Poultry, Fish or Seafood – particularly
cooked-ahead or leftover items –
are the most common
sources of Salmonella outbreaks.

My observations…

Why isn’t this serious public health situation at the top of all the news cycles? There wasn’t a single word about it in the morning newspaper, and nothing on early morning Canadian news channels.

All we’ve heard from the authorities is that they don’t know where the Salmonella outbreak originated or what caused it. An indication of how PHAC is handling the investigation would make the public more confident that the situation is under control. Regular updates on the situation would also be a good idea.

Meanwhile, the responsibility is on each of us to keep ourselves and our families safe…

~ Maggie J.