What is Salmonella? Symptoms and chicken outbreak explained

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It comes after chocolate giant Ferrero was forced to pull part of its children’s range from the UK over fears of food poisoning

Is the UK currently in the midst of a Salmonella outbreak? (Image: Adobe)

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Ferrero’s factory in Belgium is still out of action following a salmonella outbreak (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

So what is Salmonella – and which products are currently affected by an outbreak in the UK?

Here’s what you need to know.

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What is salmonella?

Typically living in the guts of animals and humans, it tends to be excreted through feces.

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Salmonella occurs naturally in the gut of most animals, including the ones we eat (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

However, during the rearing, slaughtering and subsequent processing of livestock, Salmonella bacteria can migrate into products intended for human consumption.

The items at highest risk tend to be raw meat, undercooked poultry, eggs, and unpasteurized milk.

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Salmonella can also contaminate green vegetables and fruits through manure spread when farmers try to fertilize their crops, and shellfish when they come into contact with untreated wastewater.

Salmonella can be found in dog poo, so always wash your hands after picking up your pooch (Picture: Adobe)

Cats and dogs can also expel it, which means you should always wash your hands after picking up their poop.

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What Are Salmonella Symptoms?

While salmonella bacteria can live in our gut without causing us any problems, they can make us seriously ill if we eat or drink things contaminated with them.

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This food poisoning is called salmonellosis and is particularly serious for children under the age of five, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

  • Feeling sick and being sick
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • A high temperature (above 38 degrees Celsius)
  • tiredness, pain or chills

These can appear hours, days, or even weeks after eating contaminated food.

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Food can become cross-contaminated with Salmonella during processing (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

How can you avoid salmonella?

The FSA has several tips for avoiding foodborne illness.

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This includes the so-called “4 Cs”: cooling, cleaning, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination.

It also says that we should wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water whenever we:

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  • Are preparing or eating food
  • Deal with raw foods
  • Go to the loo
  • Change a diaper
  • Tap Trash Can
  • Have any kind of contact with pets or animals

Why is there a chicken salmonella outbreak?

Corresponding new FSA recommendation issued this weekThe Chicken Salmonella outbreak is part of an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis (a specific form of the bacterium) that began in 2020.

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It is particularly prevalent in frozen raw breaded chicken products including: nuggets, goujons, poppers and kievs.

But the FSA says cases of foodborne illness related to this outbreak are down on previous years thanks to “control measures” and product recalls.

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The FSA says frozen raw breaded chicken products still carry a salmonella risk (Image: Adobe)

Since January 2020, 480 cases of salmonellosis have been reported.

No particular reason for the outbreak was given.

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“Our advice is to always use caution when storing, handling and preparing this type of frozen breaded chicken product to reduce the risk of foodborne illness to you and your family,” said Colin Sullivan, the FSA’s chief operating officer.

“You should always check the cooking instructions on food packaging, as different brands of the same product may have different instructions.

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“Cooking food at the right temperature and for the right amount of time ensures that all harmful bacteria are killed.”

What other products currently have a salmonella risk?

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Chicken is not the only product currently at risk of salmonella.

Brand owner Ferrero said it will halt production at the plant until it is “certified by the authorities”.

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Children’s products disappeared from shelves ahead of Easter due to salmonella fears (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

It acknowledged “internal inefficiencies that caused delays in timely retrieval and sharing of information” and said these had “impacted the speed and effectiveness of investigations”.

The company said it “deeply regrets” what happened and apologized to consumers and its partners.

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Affected are whole honey, cantaloupe and galia melons sourced from Costa Rica or Honduras and purchased on or before May 28, 2021.

They should be discarded as a precaution, according to the FSA.

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