Information Update - Health Canada reminds Canadians of steps they can take to protect themselves from Salmonella

    OTTAWA, March 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Health Canada is reminding Canadians of
the importance of proper food handling in the prevention of salmonellosis, a
foodborne illness caused by Salmonella.
    Salmonella are bacteria that are naturally found in the intestines of
many animals and birds, and are one of the most common causes for foodborne
illness. Symptoms of salmonellosis include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea and fever and usually appear between 12 to 72 hours after eating
contaminated food.
    When uncooked, meat, poultry and eggs are the most common foods
contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, although all foods, including fruits
and vegetables, can become contaminated. People who are infected with
salmonella bacteria can also infect others. Work surfaces that have been used
to prepare raw meat can also expose you to Salmonella.
    It is estimated that there are between 11 million and 13 million cases of
food-related illnesses, such as salmonellosis, in Canada every year. Many of
these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and
preparation techniques.
    You can minimize your chances of contracting salmonellosis by taking the
following precautions:

    Wash your hands. Handwashing, using soap and warm water before and after
handling food, is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne
illness. Remember to wash your hands when you finish handling raw foods. Also
be sure to wash your hands after caring for your family pet, as Salmonella can
be found in animal feces and on reptiles.

    Keep work surfaces clean. Be sure to carefully wash with soap and warm
water, all cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils after preparing
uncooked foods. Wash all plates and utensils that touched or held raw meat or
poultry before using them again for food that is ready-to-eat.

    Wash all fresh produce. Raw fruits and vegetables can be contaminated
with bacteria so they should be washed thoroughly with running water before
they are prepared and eaten. Use a brush to scrub produce with firm or rough
surfaces, such as cantaloupes, oranges, potatoes and carrots.

    Cook food thoroughly. Contaminated foods may look and smell normal, but
thorough cooking will destroy the bacteria. Use a digital instant-read food
thermometer to check when meat and poultry are safe to eat. Don't eat raw or
undercooked eggs, poultry or meat and avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and
dairy products. Cooked foods are safe to eat when internal temperatures are:

    - 71 degrees C (160 degrees F) for ground beef
    - 74 degrees C (165 degrees F) for leftover food, ground poultry and
      poultry parts
    - 85 degrees C (185 degrees F) for whole poultry

    Properly store food. When buying and storing foods, separate raw meat and
poultry from fruits, vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods. Bacteria
grow quickly at room temperature, so be sure to refrigerate or freeze food
immediately when returning from grocery shopping and never defrost food at
room temperature. Always defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water or in
the microwave.

    For more information on how to prevent illness from Salmonella please see
It's Your Health on Salmonella Prevention.

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For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries: Paul Duchesne, Health Canada,
(613) 954-4807; Public Inquiries: (613) 957-2991, 1-866 225-0709

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