Anna Schremmer - Family Consumer Science

September is Food Safety Education Month

Staying ahead of Food Borne Illnesses is a constant battle! Food safety is continuous. We must be conscience of food safety when we prepare a meal, eat, shop for food, and when we go to the bathroom.

Since 1994, food safety has been the focus during the month of September. Once again, Food Safety Education Month is highlighting many topics related to food safety for consumers and food service workers. Three short articles written by Karen Blakeslee K-State Extension Associate Rapid Response Center Coordinator will be highlighted here.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that was discovered by an American scientist named Dr. Salmon, and has been known to cause illness for over 125 years.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics

Recall of Pre-cut Melons Due To Salmonella Contamination

This summer, pre-cut melons were recalled due to Salmonella contamination. This included pre-cut cantaloupe, watermelon, and a fruit salad mix sold in grocery stores in nine states. While Salmonella is usually connected to meat, poultry, or eggs, it may seem unusual for melons. But, melons are not like many other fruits.

Most fruits are considered high acid, or low in acidity with a pH averaging between 3.0 and 4.0. Melons have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. This makes them a low acid food. Salmonellathrives in a pH range of 4.1-9.0. So melons can support the growth of Salmonella. It can also grow in a temperature range of 43-115°F. Therefore, in this recall, if temperature abuse occurred at any point, Salmonella would grow.

Good handling practices are your best defense. Always scrub and wash melons before cutting them open. Store cut fruit in the refrigerator. Keep it separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs. Use clean utensils to serve fresh melons. Wash your hands before and after handling melons or other produce. When buying pre-cut melons or other fresh produce, be sure they are cold and refrigerate promptly.

What is Bacillus cereus?

You may have had foodborne illness caused by Bacillus cereus and didn’t know it. Most people have mild symptoms and it goes away in about a day.

B. cereus can be a serious illness. When consumed through contaminated food, it can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea and symptoms start in about 6-15 hours. The most common foods it is associated with are rice, but also starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta, cheese products and other food mixtures such as sauces, soups, salads and casseroles.

Temperature control of food is important. If food is left at warm temperatures, B. cereus can form spores, which can lead to more bacterial growth and more toxins form. Cooking will kill the bacteria, but may not destroy the toxin. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, wash your hands, and prevent cross–contamination.

Food borne illness does not sleep, Fight BAC with safe food handling procedures.

“Knowledge for Life” provided by Phillips-Rooks Extension District #5 and K-State Research and Extension.