Salmonella poisoning

Salmonella Food Poisoning (Salmonella Enterocolitis)

Salmonella poisoning

Certain bacteria in the group Salmonella cause salmonella food poisoning. These bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals. Human infection results when food or water that has been contaminated with infected feces is ingested.

A gastrointestinal salmonella infection usually affects the small intestine. It is also called salmonella enterocolitis or enteric salmonellosis. It’s one of the most common types of food poisoning.

Around 19,000 people are hospitalized with salmonella food poisoning every year in the United States. It’s most common in people under 20 years old. It’s also more ly to occur in the summer months because the Salmonella bacterium grows better in warm weather.

Is it a stomach bug or food poisoning? »

Eating food or drinking any liquid contaminated with certain species of Salmonella bacteria causes salmonella food poisoning. People are usually infected by eating raw foods or prepared foods that have been handled by others.

Salmonella is often spread when people don’t wash (or improperly wash) their hands after using the toilet. It can also be spread by handling pets, especially reptiles and birds. Thorough cooking or pasteurization kills Salmonella bacteria. You’re at risk when you consume raw, undercooked, or unpasteurized items.

Salmonella food poisoning is commonly caused by:

  • undercooked chicken, turkey, or other poultry
  • undercooked eggs
  • unpasteurized milk or juice
  • contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts

A number of factors can increase your risk of salmonella infection, including:

  • having family members with salmonellafood poisoning
  • having a pet reptile or bird (they can carry Salmonella)
  • living in group housing such as dorms or nursing homes, where you’re regularly exposed to many people and food preparation by others
  • traveling to developing countries where sanitation is poor and hygienic standards are sub-standard

If you have a weakened immune system, you’re more ly than others to become infected with Salmonella.

The symptoms of salmonella food poisoning often come on quickly, usually within 8 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms may be aggressive and can last for up to 48 hours.

Typical symptoms during this acute stage include:

  • abdominal pain, cramping, or tenderness
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • muscle pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • signs of dehydration (such as decreased or dark-colored urine, dry mouth, and low energy)
  • bloody stool

Dehydration caused by diarrhea is a serious concern, especially in children and infants. The very young can become severely dehydrated in just one day. This can lead to death.

The warning signs of dehydration in toddlers »

To diagnose salmonella food poisoning, your doctor will do a physical examination. They may check if your abdomen is tender. They may look for a rash with small pink dots on your skin. If these dots are accompanied by a high fever, they may indicate a serious form of salmonella infection called typhoid fever.

Your doctor may also do a blood test or stool culture. This is to look for actual evidence and samples of Salmonella bacteria in your body.

Food poisoning »

The main treatment for salmonella food poisoning is replacing fluids and electrolytes that you lose when you have diarrhea. Adults should drink water or suck on ice cubes. Your pediatrician may suggest rehydration drinks such as Pedialyte for children.

In addition, modify your diet to include only easily digestible foods. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are good options. You should avoid dairy products and get plenty of rest. This allows your body to fight the infection.

If nausea prevents you from drinking liquids, you may need to see your doctor and receive intravenous (IV) fluids. Young children may also need IV fluids.

Typically, antibiotics and medication to stop your diarrhea aren’t recommended. These treatments can prolong the “carrier state” and the infection, respectively.

The “carrier state” is the period of time during and after the infection when you can transmit the infection to another person. You should consult with your doctor about medications for symptom management.

In severe or life-threatening cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

To help prevent salmonella food poisoning:

  • Handle food properly. Cook foods to recommended internal temperatures, and refrigerate leftovers promptly.
  • Clean counters before and after preparing high-risk foods.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly (especially when handling eggs or poultry).
  • Use separate utensils for raw and cooked items.
  • Keep foods refrigerated before cooking.
  • If you own a reptile or bird, wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

People who have salmonella and work in the food service industry should not return to work until they haven’t had diarrhea for at least 48 hours.

For healthy people, symptoms should go away within two to seven days. However, the bacteria can stay in the body longer. This means that even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, you can still infect other people with Salmonella bacteria.


Salmonella (Salmonellosis)

Salmonella poisoning

Salmonella is the type of bacteria that’s the most frequently reported cause of food-related illness in the United States. You can’t see, smell, or taste it.

Illness from these bacteria is officially called salmonellosis. It can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, and pain and cramping in your belly. Most people get better on their own at home within 4 to 7 days.

Salmonella infections are very common. When people mention food poisoning, they’re usually talking about salmonella. Tens of millions of cases are reported around the world every year.

In severe cases, you need to go to the hospital. Rarely, it can be life-threatening.

Infections are more common in the summer than the winter. This is because salmonella grows quickly in higher temperatures, when food isn’t refrigerated.

People and animals can carry salmonella in their intestines and their feces. The bacteria often spread through contaminated foods. Common food sources of salmonella infection include:

  • Raw and undercooked meat, including chicken, turkey, duck, beef, veal, and pork
  • Raw fruits or vegetables
  • Unpasteurized milk and other dairy products, including soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt
  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Processed foods chicken nuggets and nut butters

You can also get salmonella directly through:

  • Poor handwashing. You might pass along the bacteria by not washing your hands well after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Pets. Animals dogs, cats, birds, and reptiles can carry the bacteria.

Children, especially those under 5, are more ly than adults to get sick from salmonella. Older adults and people with weak immune systems are also more ly to be infected. Other risk factors include:

  • International travel. Salmonella is more common in places with poor sanitation.
  • Taking certain drugs. Cancer drugs or steroids can weaken your immune system. Antacids lower how much acid is in your stomach, which makes it easier for salmonella to survive there. Antibiotics can kill “good” bacteria in your body and make an infection harder to fight.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease. This can damage the lining of your intestines, making it easier for salmonella to take hold.

Most of the signs and symptoms of a salmonella infection are stomach-related. They include:

Symptoms tend to start 8 to 72 hours after infection. Most symptoms usually don’t last more than a week, but it can take several months for your bowel movements to get back to normal.

When should I call a doctor?

See your doctor if you’re still having general symptoms more than a week after first getting the infection.

A young child, an older adult, or someone who has a weakened immune system should see a doctor if they have any of these symptoms for more than a couple of days:

  • Bloody poop
  • Ongoing high fever
  • Dehydration, when they’ve lost too much fluid. Signs include peeing only in small amounts, a dry mouth, and sunken eyes.

You can become dehydrated if you don’t get enough fluids to replace what you lose because of diarrhea.

A few people who get a salmonella infection also get pain in their joints. You might hear a doctor call it reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome. It can last several months or longer. This condition can also cause pain while peeing and itchy, stinging, or sore eyes.

If the salmonella infection gets into your blood, it can infect other parts of your body, including:

  • The tissues around your brain and spinal cord
  • The lining of your heart or heart valves
  • Your bones or bone marrow
  • The lining of your blood vessels

Your doctor may have you take blood tests, or they might ask for a sample of your poop.

Sometimes, they may want to do testing to figure out the exact kind of bacteria you have. This can help health officials trace the source if there’s an outbreak in your area.

For healthy adults: If you have diarrhea, drink a lot of water and other fluids. Your doctor might suggest that you drink a rehydration liquid Pedialyte or take a medication loperamide (Imodium) if your diarrhea is severe.

If your doctor confirms that you have a salmonella infection, they might prescribe antibiotics. Take them exactly as directed, and be sure to finish the prescription.

For children: If your child has a healthy immune system, the doctor might just let the infection run its course. If they have a high fever, you may want to give acetaminophen. As with adults, they should drink lots of water.

In special cases: Infants, the elderly, and people who have weakened immune systems may need antibiotics.

Salmonella can hide in a variety of foods, but you can do a lot of things to help ensure the bacteria stay away:

  • Don’t eat raw or barely cooked eggs or meat.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything with unpasteurized milk or juice.
  • Don’t wash raw poultry, meat, or eggs before cooking.
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables well, and peel them if possible.
  • Don’t prepare food for other people if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • Refrigerate food properly, both before cooking it and after serving it.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after handling food.
  • Keep kitchen surfaces clean before preparing food on them.
  • Don’t mix cooked food with raw food or use the same utensils to prepare them. For example, don’t use the same knife to cut raw chicken and then to slice mushrooms, and use different plates or cutting boards to slice them on.
  • Cook meat to its correct minimum temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after touching animals, their toys, and their bedding.


CDC: “Salmonella,” “Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning,” “Salmonella and Food,” “Salmonella Questions and Answers.”

World Health Organization: “Salmonella (non-typhoidal).” “Sneaky Salmonella: It’s Common, Costly, and Preventable.”

Mayo Clinic: “Diseases and Conditions – Salmonella Infection.”

National Health Service (U.K.): “Salmonella infection.”

Kids Health from Nemours: “Salmonella Infections.” “Salmonella.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: “Salmonella Questions and Answers.”

FDA: “Think Food Safety and Be Salmonella Safe!”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Salmonella: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Salmonella poisoning

Around the world, Salmonella is one of the main causes of diarrhea. Other common symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal cramps and vomiting.

There are many types of Salmonella bacteria, and they can cause a range of illnesses, including typhoid fever and gastroenteritis.

Most people with Salmonella infections have mild symptoms and recover without treatment. However, some require care in a hospital setting.

People often develop this type of infection after coming into contact withcontaminated food or water.

In 2019, 13 people from eight states became sick after eating ground beef that contained a strain of Salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a safety alert but declared the outbreak over by the end of the year.

Pet reptiles and amphibians can also transmit Salmonella. In 2017, an outbreak linked to pet turtles affected at least 76 people in 19 states, according to the CDC.

Share on PinterestWashing raw fruits and vegetables before eating them may help prevent a Salmonella infection.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans.

There are over 2,500 subtypes, including animal and human strains. Some are present in animals but can also affect humans. Fewer than 100 strains of Salmonella bacteria are ly to infect people.

In the United States, Salmonella is a major cause of bacterial infection. According to the CDC, it causes around 1.35 million infections, leading to 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths, every year.

Symptoms usually appear between 6 hours and 6 days after the initial infection and last 4–7 days, according to the CDC.

They include:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps and abdominal pain
  • a sudden fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting, in some cases

Some strains of Salmonella can infect the urine, blood, bones, joints, and the nervous system, including the spinal fluid and brain. Severe complications can result.

Some people with Salmonella infections experience joint pain, known as reactive arthritis. It can last for months or years, and it can become chronic arthritis.

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of birds, animals, and humans. Most infections in humans develop after eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by feces.

Uncooked meat, seafood, and poultry

Contamination can occur during processing. For example, harvesting seafood in contaminated waters is a common cause of Salmonella infection.

Also, the infection can spread if a person handles contaminated raw meat, then touches other food without washing their hands.

Uncooked eggs

Eggs from a bird with a Salmonella infection can contain the bacteria.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimate that every year, 79,000 cases of foodborne illness occur in the U.S. due to eggs containing Salmonella.

Cooking the eggs can reduce the risk. However, some popular sauces, such as mayonnaise, can contain raw eggs.

Fruits and vegetables

Watering fruit or vegetable plants with contaminated water, or washing the produce in this water, can lead to Salmonella infection.

Lack of hygieneContamination and infection can occur if people do not keep kitchen surfaces clean and do not wash their hands during food preparation, after using the bathroom, and after changing a baby’s diapers.

When a person has the bacteria on their hands, they can spread it by touching other people or by touching frequently used objects and surfaces.

Pet reptiles or amphibians

Most reptiles and amphibians carry Salmonella in their guts without becoming ill. They shed the bacteria in their droppings.

The bacteria can then quickly spread to their skin and anything that they come into contact with, including cages, toys, clothes, furniture, and household surfaces.

People should not keep pet reptiles indoors if there are children under 5 years of age, pregnant women, older people, or people with weakened immune systems in the household.

Since 1975, the FDA have banned the sale and distribution of small turtles because of the risk of Salmonella infection.

Salmonella infections are more common in summer than in winter.

Overall, people with the highest risks of infection are:

  • children
  • older people
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • pregnant women

Because of the risk of infection, caregivers should not allow young children to handle reptiles or chicks and young birds.

If a woman develops a Salmonella infection during pregnancy, there can be additional risks. Dehydration and a lack of nutrients that result from the infection can harm the mother and baby.

In around 4% of Salmonella infections during pregnancy, the bacteria spread to the blood. This can lead to intrauterine sepsis, a potentially life threatening condition.

A doctor will ask about:

  • symptoms
  • other ongoing health issues
  • changes in the diet or food preparation habits
  • contact with pets
  • recent travel

Diarrhea and vomiting are usually a clear sign of gastroenteritis. Blood and stool tests can help determine the cause of the infection.

Symptoms of Salmonella-induced gastroenteritis usually disappear without treatment after 4–7 days.

Treatments may include:

  • fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • antimotility drugs to reduce cramping and stop diarrhea
  • antibiotics for severe symptoms or if bacteria have entered the bloodstream or are ly to do so

A doctor will not always prescribe antibiotics for Salmonella. Scientists have determined that overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance, and this increases the risk of the infection reappearing.

Good hygiene is key to preventing Salmonella infection. Here are some tips:

Hand washing

People should regularly wash their hands with soap and warm water or use hand sanitizer. This is especially important:

  • before preparing or eating food
  • after using the bathroom
  • after changing a baby’s diapers
  • after touching pets and other animals
  • after gardening

Food handling

When dealing with food:

  • Keep cooked and raw foods separate.
  • Store raw foods in a fridge on the shelves below ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  • Cook foods thoroughly, especially meats and eggs.
  • Keep cooking utensils and work surfaces clean.
  • Regularly replace used dishcloths with clean ones.
  • Avoid drinking untreated water, for example, from streams, rivers, and lakes.

Salmonella can live for varying amounts of time in different foods. For example, in 2015, researchers found that the bacteria can live in cookie and cracker sandwich snacks for at least 6 months.

Egg safety

When buying eggs, make sure that they come from a supplier who keeps them refrigerated.

At home, it is important to store eggs at a temperature no higher than 40°F (4°C). Throw away any cracked or dirty eggs.

The FDA require any boxes of eggs that have not been treated for Salmonella by pasteurization to carry this warning:

“Safe handling instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”

The FDA provide further detailed advice about storing and cooking eggs.


Pet reptiles or amphibians should not live inside the house if there are older people, pregnant women, very young children, or people with weakened immune systems in the household.

Preventing the spread of infection

If anyone in a household develops Salmonella infection:

  • wash clothes, bedding, and towels in the washing machine at the hottest setting possible
  • thoroughly clean toilet seats, toilet bowls, and all bathroom handles, basins, and taps with detergent and hot water, followed by a household disinfectant regularly

The CDC recommend seeing a doctor if any of the following occur:

  • diarrhea, vomiting, or both persisting for at least 2 days
  • symptoms of dehydration, such as dark urine, dizziness, reduced urination, and dry mouth
  • a fever above 102˚F (39˚C)
  • blood in stool

If a child has any of the following, they should receive medical care:

  • diarrhea that lasts more than 1 day
  • vomiting that lasts at least 12 hours
  • signs of dehydration, including no urination for at least 3 hours or a dry mouth or tongue
  • blood in stool
  • a fever above 102˚F (39˚C)

Older people, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should not hesitate to seek medical advice.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that commonly causes diarrhea.

People often develop Salmonella infection after coming into contact with pet reptiles or contaminated water or food. It is crucial to ensure that all foods are stored and cooked properly.

Symptoms of the infection usually go away without treatment. However, if a person has a high risk of complications or if symptoms persist, the person should receive medical care.

  • GastroIntestinal / Gastroenterology
  • Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses


Questions and Answers

Salmonella poisoning

Salmonella are bacteria that make people sick. They were first discovered by an American scientist named Dr. Daniel E. Salmon in 1885.

What illness do people get from Salmonella infection?

Most types of Salmonella cause an illness called salmonellosis, which is the focus of this website. Some other types of Salmonella cause typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Most people with Salmonella infection have diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.

Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days. However, some people do not develop symptoms for several weeks after infection and others experience symptoms for several weeks.

Salmonella strains sometimes cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or the nervous system (spinal fluid and brain), and can cause severe disease.

Salmonella are a diverse group of bacteria.

Scientists classify Salmonella into serotypes (types) by identifying structures on the bacteria’s surfaces. Although more than 2,500 serotypes have been described, fewer than 100 are known to cause human infections.

Salmonella infection is diagnosed when a laboratory test detects Salmonella bacteria in a person’s stool (poop), body tissue, or fluids.

How is infection treated?

Most people recover from Salmonella infection within four to seven days without antibiotics. People who are sick with a Salmonella infection should drink extra fluids as long as diarrhea lasts.

Antibiotic treatment is recommended for:

  • People with severe illness
  • People with a weakened immune system, such as from HIV infection or chemotherapy treatment
  • Adults older than 50 who have medical problems, such as heart disease
  • Infants (children younger than 12 months).
  • Adults age 65 or older

Can infection cause long-term health problems?

Most people with diarrhea caused by Salmonella recover completely, although some people’s bowel habits (frequency and consistency of poop) may not return to normal for a few months.

Some people with Salmonella infection develop pain in their joints, called reactive arthritis, after the infection has ended. Reactive arthritis can last for months or years and can be difficult to treat. Some people with reactive arthritis develop irritation of the eyes and pain when urinating.

How do people get infected?

Salmonella live in the intestines of people and animals. People can get Salmonella infection from a variety of sources, including

  • Eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water
  • Touching infected animals, their feces, or their environment

Who is more ly to get an infection and severe illness?

  • Children under 5 years old are the most ly to get a Salmonella infection.
  • Infants (children younger than 12 months) who are not breast fed are more ly to get a Salmonella infection.
  • Infants, adults aged 65 and older, and people with a weakened immune system are the most ly to have severe infections.
  • People taking certain medicines (for example, stomach acid reducers) are at increased risk of infection.

What should I know about antibiotic resistance and Salmonella?

Resistance to essential antibiotics is increasing in Salmonella, which can limit treatment options for people with severe infections.  One way to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance is by appropriate use of antibiotics.

What can be done to prevent antibiotic resistance and resistant bacteria?

Appropriate use of antibiotics in people and animals (use only when needed and exactly as prescribed) can help prevent antibiotic resistance and the spread of resistant bacteria.

How common is Salmonella infection?

CDC estimates Salmonella cause about 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year.

  1. CDC. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2019.
  2. Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, Tauxe RV, Widdowson MA, Roy SL, Jones JL, Griffin PM. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States–major pathogens pdf icon[PDF – 9 pages]. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2011;17(1):7-15.
  3. CDC. Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet): FoodNet Surveillance Report for 2012 (Final Report) pdf icon[PDF 9 – pages]. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. 2014.
  4. CDC. Suspecting Foodborne Illnesses in Special Populations: Quick Facts for Providersexternal icon. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC. 2012.
  5. Carter JD, Hudson AP. Reactive arthritis: clinical aspects and medical managementexternal icon. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2009 Feb; 35(1): 21-44.


Salmonella Infections

Salmonella poisoning

Salmonella is a kind of bacteria, with many different types. The type responsible for most infections in humans is carried by chickens, cows, pigs, and reptiles (such as turtles, lizards, and iguanas). Another, rarer form — called Salmonella typhi — causes typhoid fever.

What Is Salmonella Infection?

Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is a foodborne illness caused by infection with Salmonella bacteria. Most infections spread to people through contaminated food (usually meat, poultry, eggs, or milk).

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Salmonella Infection?

A Salmonella infection typically causes:

Because many different kinds of illnesses can cause these symptoms, most doctors will take a stool sample to make an accurate diagnosis.

Salmonella infections usually clear up without medical treatment.

How Do People Get Salmonella Infections?

Salmonella bacteria are often found in the feces (poop) of some animals, particularly reptiles. People who have these animals as pets can get salmonellosis if they handle the reptiles and get the bacteria on their hands.

Salmonella can spread to people in foods contaminated by infected animal feces. This can happen when foods such as poultry, eggs, and beef are not cooked enough. Fruit and vegetables can also be contaminated from feces in the soil or water where they're grown.

Are Salmonella Infections Contagious?

Yes. People with salmonellosis can spread the infection from several days to several weeks after they've been infected — even if their symptoms have disappeared or they've been treated with antibiotics.

Who Is at Risk for Salmonella Infections?

Not everyone who ingests Salmonella bacteria will become ill. Children, especially infants, are most ly to get sick from it. About 50,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year and about one third of those are in kids 4 years old or younger.

People at risk for more serious complications from a Salmonella infection include those who:

  • are very young, especially babies
  • have problems with their immune systems (such as people with HIV)
  • take cancer-fighting drugs or drugs that affect their immune system
  • have sickle cell disease
  • have an absent or nonfunctioning spleen
  • take chronic stomach acid suppression medicine

In these higher-risk groups, most doctors will treat an infection with antibiotics to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. Antibiotics do not appear to help a healthy person whose infection is not severe — and may actually lengthen the amount of time the person will carry the bacteria.

How Are Salmonella Infections Diagnosed?

Because many different illnesses can cause similar symptoms (such as nausea, fever, cramping, and diarrhea), doctors may send a stool (poop) sample to the lab for testing.

A severe Salmonella infection will require more testing to see which specific germ is causing the illness and which antibiotics can be used to treat it.

How Are Salmonella Infections Treated?

If your child has salmonellosis and a healthy immune system, your doctor may let the infection pass without giving any medicines. But any time a child develops a fever, headache, or bloody diarrhea, call the doctor to rule out any other problems.

If your child is infected and has a fever, you may want to give acetaminophen to lower the temperature and relieve cramping. As with any infection that causes diarrhea, it's important to give your child plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

How Long Does a Salmonella Infection Last?

Salmonellosis symptoms can take from 6 to 72 hours to start after someone ingests the bacteria. In most people, the illness lasts for 4 to 7 days after symptoms begin.

Can Salmonella Infections Be Prevented?

Hand washing is a powerful way to guard against Salmonella infections. So teach kids to wash their hands well and often, particularly after trips to the bathroom and before handling food.

Here are some other ways to protect your family from Salmonella infections:

  • Cook food thoroughly. Salmonella bacteria are most commonly found in animal products and can be killed by the heat of cooking. Don't serve raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Microwaving is not a reliable way to kill the bacteria. If you're pregnant, be especially careful to avoid undercooked foods.
  • Handle eggs carefully. Because Salmonella bacteria can contaminate even intact and disinfected grade A eggs, cook them well and avoid serving poached or sunny-side up eggs (with runny yolks).
  • Avoid foods that might contain raw ingredients. Caesar salad dressing, the Italian dessert tiramisu, homemade ice cream, chocolate mousse, eggnog, cookie dough, and frostings can contain raw eggs. Unpasteurized milk and juices also can be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly. Keep uncooked meats away from cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Thoroughly wash your hands, cutting boards, counters, and knives after handling uncooked foods.
  • Take care with pets. Avoid contact with the feces of family pets — especially reptiles. Wash your hands well after handling an animal and make sure that no reptiles are permitted to come into contact with a baby. Even healthy reptiles (especially turtles and iguanas) are not safe pets for small children and should not be in the same house as an infant.
  • Don't cook food for others if you are sick, especially if you have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Keep food chilled. Don't leave cooked food out for more than 2 hours after serving (1 hour on a hot day) and store it promptly. Also, keep your refrigerator set to under 40°F (4.4°C).

Reviewed by: Rebecca L. Gill, MD

Date reviewed: November 2017


Salmonella and Food

Salmonella poisoning

You may know that Salmonella can contaminate poultry and eggs, but it also sneaks its way into many other foods. Learn what you can do to make your food safer to eat.

Salmonella is a bacteria that commonly causes foodborne illness, sometimes called “food poisoning.” CDC estimates Salmonella causes 1 million foodborne illnesses every year in the United States. During the past few years, outbreaks of Salmonella illness have been linked to contaminated cucumbers, pre-cut melon, chicken, eggs, pistachios, raw tuna, sprouts, and many other foods.

Five Facts That May Surprise You

Don’t let Salmonella make you or your loved ones sick. Learn these five facts – and tips for lowering your chance of getting a Salmonella infection.

Contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you have:

  • Diarrhea and a fever over 102°F.
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving.
  • Bloody stools.
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:
    • Making very little urine.
    • Dry mouth and throat.
    • Dizziness when standing up.

1. You can get a Salmonella infection from a variety of foods.

Salmonella can be found in many foods including beef, chicken, eggs, fruits, pork, sprouts, vegetables, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees.

When you eat a food that is contaminated with Salmonella, it can make you sick. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal, which is why it is important to know how to prevent Salmonella infection.

Watch AJ’s story to learn how he got Salmonella from eating contaminated chicken.

2. Salmonella illness is more common in the summer. Warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for Salmonella to grow. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishables (foods ly to spoil or go bad quickly), prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours. Chill them within 1 hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter.

3. Salmonella illness can be serious and is more dangerous for certain people. Symptoms of infection usually appear 6 hours to 6 days after eating a contaminated food. These symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. In most cases, illness lasts 4–7 days and people recover without antibiotic treatment.

Some people may have severe diarrhea and need to be hospitalized.

Anyone can get a Salmonella infection, but some groups are more ly to develop a serious illness: older adults, children younger than 5, and people with immune systems weakened from medical conditions, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and cancer or their treatment.

4. Salmonella causes far more illnesses than you might suspect.

For every one case of Salmonella illness confirmed by laboratory tests, there are about 30 more cases of Salmonella illnesses that are not Most people who get food poisoning usually do not go to the doctor or submit a sample to a laboratory, so we never learn what germ made them sick.

5. To avoid Salmonella, you should not eat raw eggs or eggs that have runny whites or yolks. Salmonella can contaminate eggs, even perfectly normal-looking ones. But these eggs can make you sick, especially if they are raw or lightly cooked. Eggs are safe when you cook and handle them properly.

Check Your Steps

Remember to follow the Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill guidelines to help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning. Be especially careful to follow the guidelines when preparing food for young children, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and older adults.

Cleanexternal icon

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling uncooked eggs, or raw meat, poultry, and seafood and their juices.
  • Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to prepare the next item.
  • Don’t wash raw poultry, meat, and eggs before cooking. Germs can spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces.
  • Sanitize food contact surfaces with a freshly made solution of one tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water.

Separateexternal icon

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery cart and in your refrigerator. Keep eggs in the original carton and store them in the main part of the refrigerator, not in the door.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, such as salads and deli meat.
  • Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.

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  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature:
    • 145°F for beef, veal, lamb, and fish (let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
    • 145°F for pork and ham (let the meat rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
    • 160°F for ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and ground lamb
    • 160°F for egg dishes
    • 165°F for poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), including ground chicken and ground turkey
    • 165°F for casseroles
    • Microwave food to 165°F or above.

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  • Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or colder.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is 90°F or hotter).