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Salmonella in food


Last updated: 23 December 2020

What is it?

  • Salmonella is a type of bacteria that is typically found in the gut of pets, livestock and wild animals
  • It is usually transferred to food through contaminated soil or water from the faeces (poo) of animals or people, for example from animal manure, sewerage or dirty hands
  • Foods that are at higher risk of contamination include meat, chicken, eggs, raw fruits and vegetables and spices

What's the risk?

  • Salmonella can cause severe gastro illness called salmonellosis
  • Anyone can get salmonellosis but young children, the elderly and people with a weakened immune system are most at risk.

Reduce your risk

  • Cook food thoroughly, especially poultry and eggs
  • Don’t use dirty or cracked eggs
  • Wash your hands with soap and dry them before preparing and eating food and after handling eggs
  • Never wash raw chicken
  • Wash raw fruit and vegetables thoroughly in running water
  • Avoid cross contamination − use separate cutting boards and knives for raw chicken and ready-to-eat food, and store cooked food separately from raw foods
  • Keep cold food cold (5oC or colder) or keep cooked food hot (60oC or hotter) before it is served
  • Keep your kitchen and equipment clean
  • Follow storage instructions on the product label

Symptoms of salmonellosis

  • Symptoms usually start 12-36 hours after eating contaminated food
  • Common symptoms are diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and headaches
  • Sometimes the illness can become more complicated from severe dehydration, requiring hospitalisation, or leading to longer-term problems such as arthritis
  • Most people are sick for 4 to 7 days, but can be sick for longer


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