What is Salmonella?

Consumers expect meat and poultry that is as free as possible from bacteria. More than twenty years of research shows that it is just not economically feasible to produce bacteria-free raw meat and poultry. That's why good sanitation and careful food handling will always be necessary to prevent bacteria on raw meat products from causing illness.

Salmonellosis is the most common foodborne illness, but it is usually preventable. Foods like eggs, raw milk, and all raw foods of animal origin may carry salmonella and other bacteria. Bacteria don't have to cause illness, though. Routine food safety practices can destroy salmonella and other bacteria.

Symptoms of Salmonellosis may lead a person to believe they have the flu. The only way to tell if you are infected is through lab tests, a process that can take several days.

The salmonella family includes about 2,000 different strains of bacteria, but only ten strains cause most reported salmonella infections. Strains that may cause no symptoms in animals can make people sick, and vice versa.

A Salmonella bacterium is a one-celled organism that can't be seen, touched or tasted. The bacteria are common in the intestinal tracts and waste of livestock, poultry, dogs, cats, rats, and other warm-blooded animals. There will always be some risk of bacterial contamination from foods of animal origin. Food safety is necessary to prevent bacteria on raw foods from causing illness.

More Information on Salmonella:

  • Salmonella spp. - Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins (Bad Bug Book)
  • Salmonellosis - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Article History
    • Revision Date: 6/22/2010

Food Safety Tip of the Day

Toss the towel

Paper towel roll

Damp towels and sponges provide a prime environment for pathogen and other bacteria to grow. Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. When done, throw away the towel. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education


Foodborne Pathogen of the Day

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