Salmonellosis, A world Wide Scourge?

Category : Farming / Food production, food hygiene, Food Microorganisms, Food Preparation, Food Processing / Packaging, Food Serving, Food Storage, poultry, Restaurants
Salmonellosis, A world Wide Scourge?by Andrew Routledgeon.Salmonellosis, A world Wide Scourge?You have all heard of the Salmonella food outbreaks and scares that pop up all around this country and in many other places around the world, but how many of you know that “Salmonella” is not a disease as such?  That would be called Salmonellosis.   Salmonella is a genus of Gram-negative, non-spore forming, and motile enterobacteria with flagella […]

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You have all heard of the Salmonella food outbreaks and scares that pop up all around this country and in many other places around the world, but how many of you know that “Salmonella” is not a disease as such?  That would be called Salmonellosis.


Salmonella is a genus of Gram-negative, non-spore forming, and motile enterobacteria with flagella which protrude in all directions (peritrihous).  Salmonella gets it’s energy from oxidation and reduction reactions using organic sources.  Most species of Salmonella are facultative anaerobics and are found around the world in  many different locations both  in warm blooded and coldblooded animals alike, and, believe it or not, human beings.  Some of the diseases attributed to Salmonella include typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, and food borne Salmonellosis.

Samonella infections are all zoonotic.  They can be transmitted from humans to animals and from animals to humans.  Common strains are Salmonella Enterica Subsp., Enterica Serovar Typhi, or Salmonella Typhi.  Enteritis Salmonella can cause diarrhea, and infants, small children, the elderly, and people suffering from suppressed immune systems can become very seriously ill will need antibiotic treatment to rectify the problem.

There are an estimated forty thousand cases of Salmonella infections reported annually within the USA.  Salmonella can survive for weeks outside of a living organism.  Sunlight accelerates their death rate, as does being heated to a temperature of fifty five degrees for a period of one hour, or to sixty degrees for a period of not less than half an hour.  To guard against Salmonella food must be heated to at least seventy five degrees for a minimum of ten minutes.  Freezing does not kill salmonella .

Sources of Salmonella infections can be caused by injestion of unclean foodstuffs especially in institutional kitchens and restaurants, polluted surface water or stagnant water, improperly thawed poultry, or uncooked eggs from Salmonella infested birds.  Suspected foods contaminated by Salmonella outbreaks are taken off shop selves and returned to the manufacturer and should not be ingested.

The Salmonella in peanut butter found inside the products of the Peanut Corporation of America, has become one of the worst food borne Salmonella outbreaks in US food history and has been put down to criminal negligence.
Salmonellosis usually develops within twelve to seventy two hours after the person becomes infected with salmonella and Salmonella infections normally resolve in about seven days with oral liquid treatments.  Antibiotics such as ampricillin, ciproflaxacin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazale are the best treatments for Salmonella infections which spreads to the intestines.  Some Salmonella patients have developed Reiter’s Syndrome which can lead to chronic arthritis and antibiotic treatments tend to have little effect on whether or not the patient develops arthritis from the Salmonella infection.

Beef, pork, milk, poultry, and eggs are the main host carriers of Salmonella, but any  type of food can become contaminated by this bacteria.  Eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat can be a good method of contracting a Salmonella infection, as can cross-contamination of foods.  Symptoms of Salmonella infections may include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramping.  Laboratory tests are required to determine the presence of Salmonella and its specific strain.

Milk pasteurization, farm animal hygiene, cleaner slaughterhouse regimes, cleaner vegetable and fruit harvesting and packing operations, and better educational training standards of food industry workers in basic food handling and restaurant safety inspection procedures, may all help prevent Salmonella outbreaks from happening.
US Government Departments, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, monitor the frequency of Salmonella infections in the Country, and help local and State Health Departments investigate outbreaks and devise controls and measures to lessen cases from happening.


The Food and Drug Administration inspects imported foods, milk pasteurization plants, promotes better food preparation techniques in restaurants and processing plants, as well as regulates the wrongful use of certain types of antibiotics as food animal growth inducers.  The United States Department of Agriculture monitors the health of food animals, inspects egg manufacturing plants, and the quality of slaughtered and processed meats.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates and monitors drinking water supplies for safety.

The following steps can be taken to help prevent outbreaks of Salmonellosis:  cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly at hot temperatures, avoid cooking oversized batches, do not eat or drink raw eggs or unpasteurized milk, wash hands after handling raw meat or poultry, and if foods in restaurants are served undercooked such as meat, eggs, and poultry send them back and have them cooked some more.
Salmonellosis is preventable by adopting correct food hygiene measures.


Andy has many years of experience in food preparation, Food Hygiene, Catering and staff Training

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3 Responses

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  1. ReggieMarch 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Are those temperatures Celcius or Farhenheit? They seem low to me.

  2. Author

    Andrew RoutledgeMarch 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Hi Reggie, Those temperatures are in centigrade. Remember that this bacteria thrives in living organisms whose body temperatures range from +/- thirty seven degrees Centigrade in human beings to around forty three degrees centigrade in birds. Any raise in temperature will put the bacteria under stress. The temperatures quoted are scientific fact and not a recommendation to cook at those temperatures by any means. Beef should reach a tenperature of at least sixty five degree in the center, checking with a kitchen spike thermometer. (Using one of those thermometers is quite an art form in itself, I often used to prove to my chefs that they are not placing the needle in the right place by finding a spot that showed a reading of up to twenty five degrees less than the reading they got. I would be amused to whatch their faces go white as the needle dropped. I always suggest practicing a lot with the needle until you get the hang of it). Other forms of meat such as pork and chicken should be cooked until they have completely lost all their pinkness including within the bone cavities. Never cook frozen meat or partly frozen meat. Freezing does not destroy salmonella. Salmonella will continue to develop inside your meat as it is coking. The reason for this is because salmonella has a lipopolysaccharide envelope. This is a fatty casing which helps to protect the bacteria from the bodies natural immune system’s defences. The fatty envelope helps to camouflage the bacteria’s protein spotted outer casing from the immune system’s anti-bodies which only know how to recognize and attach themselves to specific proteins. The body knows which anti-body to manufacture against a specific protein through prior exposure to bacteria posessing the protein in question. By having a fatty envelope salmonella bacteria are able, at least in part to avoid the bodies bacterial recognition mechanisms. This same fatty shell also helps the bacteria to resist destruction by freezing.
    Partly thawed pieces of meat will not be cooked in the middle by the time the outer lawyers are over cooked. In addition there will be inner lawyers which are kept at an ideal temperature for bacterial growth through resistance provided by the inner frozen core.

  3. Author

    Andrew RoutledgeMarch 31, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Reggie! Here’s another couple of points about the destruction of salmonella that you should consider.
    The fatty enveloping of salmonella will start to disperse at temperatures above fifty degrees centigrade. This will leave the bacterial cell exposed and less equiped to defend itself.
    Also, it is believed, although not entirely proven, that salmonella is distroyed in direct sunlight because the ultra violet rays, particularly UVA, destroy the bacterial DNA.

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