If you haven’t already heard or read about an ongoing outbreak of salmonella linked to raw turkeys, then take a few moments to continue reading. Over the past year, there have been 164 illnesses in 35 states, include one death in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of those sickened had to be hospitalized.
With turkey the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals, you’ll want to be especially careful when handling raw turkey in the kitchen tomorrow.
- Don’t wash raw turkey in the sink before cooking as this can spread germs from the bird around the kitchen. Carefully open the plastic wrapper and drain the liquids into the sink before throwing away the wrapper. Pat the turkey with paper towels to dry it.
- Wash your hands often with hot (but not scalding) water and soap both during and after handling raw turkey to prevent spreading germs. Thoroughly clean utensils, countertops, cutting boards, and other surfaces that may have come in contact with raw turkey.
- Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit – including leftovers and stuffing. Don’t rely on pop-up indicators. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe temperature before serving.
- Cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish, rather than inside the turkey.
Signs & Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
Salmonella infection is usually caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, or egg products. The incubation period ranges from several hours to two days. Most salmonella infections can be classified as stomach flu (gastroenteritis). Possible signs and symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Blood in the stool
Signs and symptoms of salmonella infection generally last two to seven days. Diarrhea may last up to 10 days.
Diagnosis Requires Testing
Multiple diseases can cause the above symptoms, therefore, salmonella cannot be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms alone. Salmonella infection is detected by testing a stool sample unless your doctor suspects you have salmonella infection in your bloodstream, in which case he or she may test a sample of blood.
To prevent salmonella infection this Thanksgiving, take the precautions outlined above while preparing your turkey feast.