Salmonellosis: the rules of the Ministry of Health

Salmonellosis: the rules of the Ministry of Health


Salmonella   is a genus of  bacteria  responsible for one of the  most common gastrointestinal infections in humans: Salmonellosis . The risk of the onset of this disease is mainly related to the consumption  of food contaminated  during storage and handling. Foods  such as poultry, eggs and derivatives, pork and raw fish are the cause of salmonellosis. Symptoms of infections vary, and include simple gastrointestinal disturbances ( fever ,  abdominal cramps , vomiting and  diarrhea ) up to more serious forms, which especially concern already debilitated subjects.

Salmonella develops and proliferates above all within the gastrointestinal tract of some animals, mainly poultry and pigs which eliminate the bacterium with their faeces which , in turn, can contaminate certain foods such as eggs, meat , unpasteurized milk and their derivatives. Not only that, the infection can also be transmitted by handling kitchen utensils or due to poor hygiene .

Salmonella: the foods most at risk

Salmonella contaminated food is not easily identifiable, as it does not present organoleptic alterations  (colour, smell,  taste , texture). Often we realize that we have ingested contaminated food precisely from the manifestation of the most common symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and spasms . The foods most at risk of salmonellosis, and which therefore require greater care in choosing and handling them, are:

  • Raw (or undercooked) eggs and egg derivatives such as sauces or spreads, for example mayonnaise ;
  • Meat and derivatives (especially raw or undercooked poultry);
  • Fish , crustaceans , molluscs ;
  • Raw milk and derivatives;
  • Fruits and vegetables contaminated during cutting;
  • Preparations for desserts,
  • Homemade  ice cream


Salmonella and food: rules to avoid infection

There are some best practices to avoid Salmonella infection.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water when handling food. The operation should be repeated before, during and after food preparation.
  • Use raw materials of safe origin, avoiding  raw or undercooked seafood , or unpasteurized milk ;
  • In case of feces on the egg shells, remove them with a damp paper towel (which must be thrown away immediately), before washing them under running water;
  • Wash carefully what is used for cooking. Wash pans, kitchen utensils and small appliances with hot water and detergent. With a sanitizer suitable for contact with food, clean worktops, sinks and stoves.
  • Correct conservation: cooked foods must be separated from raw ones. Store food in the refrigerator – which must be clean on every shelf – at 4 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which the bacterium is unable to reproduce.
  • Fruits and vegetables must be washed carefully before being consumed, even when the peel is removed and not consumed. They are not foods subject to the proliferation of salmonella, but they can be affected by irrigation with contaminated water;
  • Cook food, especially poultry, pork and eggs, at at least 70°C to destroy any bacterial load.

Salmonellosis: the most common symptoms

Salmonella typically causes common symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea and vomit
  • Abdominal pain and cramps;
  • Diarrhea with  loose stools ,
  • Green feces ;
  • Fever (38-39°C);
  • Joint pains ;
  • Headache .

How do you get Salmonella?

Salmonella is a microorganism usually present in the gastrointestinal tract of many animal species. Infections, i.e. salmonellosis in animals, often occur without symptoms or  clinical signs , but the animals themselves become “healthy carriers” of the bacterium which travels to the stomach of humans who ingest contaminated food.

The three main vehicles of transmission of Salmonella are: food ,  water  and  small pets. When one of these comes into contact with the feces of an infected animal, it becomes contaminated in turn, in the case in which the food is being prepared or even after cooking, due to the handling of the food, for example touched with hands or dirty utensils.

The most frequent causes of Salmonella toxin infections , which are more common in the warmer months than in the winter months , are:

  • Incorrect or incomplete cooking of a food;
  • The poor hygienic conditions of those who handle food.
  • Cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, or between meat and vegetables (using the same utensils to prepare raw and cooked foods).

How contamination occurs:

  • Direct contact: Contamination occurs by handling contaminated objects or infected animals. For example, inadvertently touching the feces or saliva of a pet with salmonellosis.
  • Oro-fecal transmission : when the bacterium reaches the oral cavity of a healthy individual from the feces of an infected animal, therefore through the consumption  of food or drink contaminated , directly or indirectly, by the feces of infected animals or people.


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