We’ve all heard the term “superbug” before. With it, is the connotation of a virus that is stronger, more resistant to medicine, and more deadly. As to the claims of this I cannot discuss, due to my lack of knowledge, but I can give you what the professionals say about superbugs and the Raw Chicken Salmonella Outbreak.
Looking back at the title, it is safe to say there are viruses and diseases that appear to be giving the medical and science fields problems: ones that are resistant to our known medicines. Salmonella is one such bacteria.
As with any and all knowledge, if we learn and study enough, we can be positive in our safety. This holds true for a new outbreak stretching across the country right now. Let’s take a closer look at what this Multi-drug Resistant bacteria is, how it presents itself, and what can we do to keep safe.
Salmonella Infantis has recently infected 92 people as of this writing and hospitalized 21 with no deaths to report – thankfully. The problem here is so far no information on a common supplier, a particular brand, and cases in 29 different states. A list of these states can be found here.
Infantis refers to chicken based foods (including raw pet food) and in this case is leading the CDC scrounging for answers. So far, there is little to go on.
While focusing on the numbers and facts are important, what we do from this day forward is more so. We need to focus on the information we are given, allowing us to make intelligent decisions when it comes to food safety. The focus here will be on us as consumers not shying away from chicken; but realizing there are safe methods we should be following every time we prepare and eat chicken.
“Salmonella is a group of bacteria that normally inhabit the intestines of animals and humans. Almost all warm- and cold-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents and other small pocket pets, reptiles, birds and livestock (e.g. cattle, horses, poultry, and swine) can carry or be infected by Salmonella of some kind. Disease due to Salmonella infection is called salmonellosis.” (wormsandgerms.com) Even though this information is focused on our pets, the facts are the same. Take the time to read through the rest of this PDF, there is a wealth of information that can be applied to humans as well.
I asked my wife last night what she was told from her mother as a child about raw chicken, and she confirmed what I believe most of us heard as well: be careful with raw chicken. Being careful is a pretty broad statement so let’s dive deeper into the raw chicken aspect with some help from the leader in food safety: the CDC.
Wash your hands. This one should go without saying but I will anyway … wash your hands. I might be a bit of a germaphobe but I wash mine before, during, after, and during again. We all have handled raw chicken before and if you haven’t yet, you should not, realize the importance of keeping your hands free of the bacteria residing on raw chicken.
Cook raw chicken thoroughly. As a personal choice, I prefer my steaks to be medium. Some would argue that is not the safest practice but I am well aware of the risks. When it comes to chicken, there is no choice: DO NOT UNDERCOOK IT. Internal temperatures should reach 165 degrees for cooking or reheating.
Don’t spread germs from raw chicken around to other cooking areas. We all know the term cross-contamination. We all understand what it means. What we need to understand is this can be done in the simplest of ways. Do you use the same knife to cut vegetables without washing it? Do you not wash your hands after handling raw chicken? Do you pick up plates, silverware, or utensils without washing your hands? All of these (and more) are ways to spread germs. Think about what you are doing when preparing chicken.
As a side note: the CDC does not recommend feeding raw chicken to your pets. Salmonella can also make your pets sick.
As with most food poisoning, the symptoms are the same:
As with any type of sickness, it is imperative to seek medical help if these symptoms last for more than a day or two. If left untreated, Salmonella poisoning can spread to the blood stream then to other organs. With around 1.2 million cases, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths each year attributed to Salmonella; the smart course of action is to get to a doctor. Check out Five Facts That May Surprise You too.
Once the CDC gets to the source of this outbreak, you can be sure makefoodsafe.com will be there to give you the latest. In the meantime, we need to be aware of what we have control over. We can make sure we are taking all precautions when cooking chicken as well as being aware of dining out. Again, I am not saying we need to shy away from chicken at times like this. Just the opposite: we need to still enjoy the foods we like and are good for us; we just need to be more mindful of preparation.
I will agree that going out to a restaurant may seem like a gamble at times. This would be where our knowledge and understanding of food preparation will shine the most. We know what raw chicken looks like. Being vigilant when out to eat is no different than when at home. And in the event that something looks ‘off’ or tastes ‘off’, do not hesitate to say something. This goes for parents as well with smaller children. Chicken was a staple for my kids growing up. Take the time to inspect their food as well.
Salmonella poisoning is no laughing matter. Take the time to research food safety on your own too. There is no shame in knowing what dangers are out there concerning our food.
If you believe you have developed a Salmonella infection from eating contaminated products, we want you to know that a Salmonella Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.
If you or a loved one have become ill with Salmonella, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.
By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)