You can get salmonella, a common type of food poisoning, anytime, but it is far more common in the summertime for a variety of reasons. Bacteria grow more in the warmer temperatures, and people consume more raw produce in the summer, which can carry salmonella if not properly washed. People also forgo washing their hands before outdoor picnics, barbeques, or lunches on the beach, and can end up spreading bacteria that way. At outdoor eating events, many times precautions are not taken to keep foods at safe temperatures, and once the sun warms them, the bacteria can spread quicker.
The symptoms of salmonella are fever, chills, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. They usually start between 12 and 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria, and can last up to a week. Generally, once the bacteria is out of your system, there is no further cause for concern, but in very rare cases, salmonella can cause an infection in the bloodstream which can be more serious.
To prevent exposure to salmonella bacteria, you can take the following steps this summer (and all the time!) :
1. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat and eggs, and before eating.
2. Store raw meat separate from produce when grocery shopping.
3. Thoroughly clean your kitchen counter, sink, and other areas that could have come in contact with raw meat or eggs.
4. Skip the cookie and brownie batter while baking!
5. Take proper precautions to keep food cool during cookouts and picnics. Store food tightly packed in a cooler when traveling, and when serving, place in a bowl or cooler over ice.
6. Wash all produce before immediately before eating.
7. Heat all meats to at least 145 degrees, or poultry to at least 165 degrees.
8. Thaw meats in the refrigerator or microwave, or in cold water, rather than at room temperature.