Top 3 Common Foods Behind Salmonella Poisoning

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salmonella poisoning

Changing our diets to include less junk food is an admirable goal we should all strive towards.

But, even doing the right thing for your health is fraught with extra challenges, like avoiding potential salmonella poisoning!

Due to mishandling along the way food items following may harbor harmful bacteria, including items such as:

  • fresh produce
  • meat
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • dairy

Among the worst pathogens is the species of Salmonella enterica. The microorganism causing food poisoning!

This form of food poisoning can cause fever, cramps, and severe gastrointestinal distress.

Knowing which foods can cause salmonella poisoning and how you can avoid it is important part of healthy eating. As they say, food prep and cleaning are part of eating!

This article will list the top 3 foods that cause salmonella poisoning. We’ll also discuss strategies to avoid salmonella poisoning too!

But first, let’s explore what salmonella poisoning means in the first place!

What is Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacterium that transmits to humans and animals by contaminated food.

Most salmonella infections are subclinical, meaning they display no symptoms. Whew!

Yet many salmonella poisonings lead to the symptoms within 12-27 hours after exposure, symptoms like:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Good news though – the disease usually resolves on its own in about four to seven days.

Yet, it is possible for salmonellosis cases to become so severe that hospitalization is needed. In some instances salmonellosis can even kill.

The 3 Most Common Foods That Cause Salmonella Poisoning

1) Raw or Undercooked Poultry

Even in the best conditions, poultry products can come to harbor Salmonella bacteria quite easily.

Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of chickens. Because poultry processing causes fecal matter to come in contact with the rest of the chicken.

Whether you buy a family pack of chicken thighs from the grocery store or whole chickens from your farmer’s market …

Please know that while it is safe to eat, poultry products in particular often contain harmful bacteria that you should kill before you eat it.

Basically, undercooked chicken has a much higher risk of salmonella. So cook those thighs and wings!

What temperature you might ask? An internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary to kill Salmonella bacteria.

2) Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

The fact that Salmonella is most associated with livestock does not prevent its appearance in produce.

Whether from runoff or manure, contaminated water can cause produce to harbor salmonella.

Recently, the world experienced an outbreak of salmonellosis due to contaminated muskmelons from Honduras. This underscores that even fruit can host this bacteria.

Yet while high heat kills Salmonella in animal products, we don’t always cook our veggies. We rinse them and throw them in a salad!

But the rinsing we normally do on our produce is insufficient. This is why you hear on the news about full-scale recalls when contamination occurs. 

3) Eggs

Surely at some point growing up, your mother admonished you not to lick the spoon on a bowl of raw cookie dough. She warned you that while it is tasty, you could get food poisoning from doing so.

While, statistically speaking, the odds are in your favor, the precaution is worth it.

Hens infected with Salmonella enterica can transfer the bacteria into their eggs. If you eat these eggs raw, then this can lead to salmonellosis.

Although advances in henhouse conditions have helped eggs become more safe, the CDC still advises Americans to use safe handling and cooking of eggs.

You should cook them fully to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit—in other words, no raw cookie dough.

These three food groups we mentioned are the 3 most common foods that cause salmonella poisoning.

But of course there are more than just three foods that cause salmonella poisoning …

The Most Common Foods That Cause Salmonella Poisoning

Foods are more likely to be contaminated when prepared on moist surfaces where bacteria grows easily. Such as sauces made from raw meat or vegetables, like salsa fresca. Or guacamole dip prepared using unpeeled avocados.

The following foods have been associated with salmonella outbreaks in the past few years:

  • raw chicken eggs
  • unpasteurized milk
  • ground beef
  • sprouts (alfalfa)
  • cantaloupe melon
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • green onions (scallions)
  • ice cream cones/sticks made from frozen custard mix containing eggs

And … now that we’ve covered the foods which most commonly lead to Salmonella Poisoning ..

How To Prevent Salmonella Poisoning

  • Wash your hands, cutting boards and utensils.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before serving them to your family or tossing them with a salad.
  • Cook meat products completely! If you are cooking poultry and ground beef the internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees.
  • For extra safety, use a meat thermometer to test for salmonella.
  • Keep kitchen clean — Salmonella can be found in many places around your home.
  • Wipe down kitchen surfaces (including the sink) with soap and water after preparing raw foods.
  • Wash and sanitize dishes before loading into dishwasher.
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for different types of meats or other foods
  • Try to avoiding reusing containers with leftover cooked food. This may contain bacteria that will contaminate any new uncooked food placed in it
  • Cook egg dishes until both whites and yolks are firm. Use a timer when cooking eggs because different types have different cooking times. For example, scrambled eggs should be cooked about 2 minutes per side. Hard boiled need 15 minutes total.

If you experience any symptoms consult your doctor immediately for more advice.

Or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for more information.

Final Thoughts

Salmonella poisoning is a type of foodborne illness caused by the bacteria, salmonella.

This article shares some helpful information about what causes this disease and how to prevent it.

Don’t forget that we have an entire blog on eggs if you want more info!

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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