The Canadian federal government reported today that it is working with provincial health agencies to identify the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has infected 91 people between March and November. Eight provinces reported infections during this period, including Quebec (13), Ontario (53), Alberta (11), British Columbia (6), Saskatchewan (2), Nova Scotia (2), Manitoba (2), New Brunswick (1) and Prince Edward Island (1). No deaths have been reported. The Public Health Agency of Canada says risk of contracting the illness is low and while the source of the current outbreak is unknown, the agency identified poultry products as “items of interest” in its continuing investigation. Salmonella comes from a bacteria found naturally in the intestines of birds and reptiles and is most often transmitted to people when they eat contaminated foods (mostly poultry, milk, eggs or beef). Infants, children and seniors are most at risk of contracting the bacterial illness and once a person is infected, they can contaminate others. Symptoms include diarrhea, chills, fever, abdominal cramps, headaches and nausea. To avoid contracting Salmonella the PHAC advises people to use the following safety tips when preparing food:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling all types of food products.
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature that has been checked using a digital thermometer. Raw poultry pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74 C (165 F). Whole poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82 C (180 F).
- Eggs and egg-based foods should be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to eat.
- Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
- Never rinse poultry before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a safety hazard.
- Always read and follow package cooking instructions of any frozen raw poultry products, including products labeled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.
- Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat, poultry and fish.
- If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food for other people.
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