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What is Salmonella? Symptoms and chicken outbreak explained

It comes after chocolate giant Ferrero was forced to pull some of its Kinder range from the UK over food poisoning fears

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

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Is the UK currently in the midst of a Salmonella outbreak? (images: 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 being impacted by an outbreak in the UK?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Salmonella?

Typically found living in the guts of animals and humans, it tends to be ejected through faeces.

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

However, when farm animals are being reared, slaughtered and then processed, Salmonella bacteria can be transferred into products destined for human consumption.

The highest risk items tend to be raw meat, undercooked poultry, egss, and unpasteurised milk.

Salmonella can also contaminate green vegetables and fruit through muck spreading when farmers try to fertilize their crops, as well as shellfish if it comes into contact with untreated sewage.

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

Cats and dogs can eject it too, meaning you should always wash your hands when you’ve picked up their poo.

What are Salmonella symptoms?

While Salmonella bacteria can live in our intestines without causing us any trouble, they can make us badly ill if we eat or drink things contaminated by them.

This food poisoning condition is called Salmonellosis, and is particularly serious for children under five-years-old, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

  • Feeling sick and being sick
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • At high temperature (above 38 degrees Celsius)
  • Tiredness, aches or chills

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

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

How can you avoid Salmonella?

The FSA has several tips for avoiding food poisoning.

These include what it calls the ‘4Cs’: chilling, cleaning, cooking and avoiding cross-contamination.

It also says we should wash our hands thoroughly using soap and water when we:

  • Are about to prepare or eat food
  • Handle raw foods
  • Go to the loo
  • change to nappy
  • touch bins
  • Have any sort of contact with pets or animals

Why is there a chicken Salmonella outbreak?

According to new FSA advice issued this week, the chicken Salmonella outbreak is part of an ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis (a specific form of the bacterium) that began in 2020.

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

But the FSA says food poisoning cases linked to this outbreak are lower than they were in previous years thanks to “control measures” and product recalls.

The FSA says frozen raw, breaded chicken products still carry a Salmonella risk (image: Adobe)

Since January 2020, there have been 480 reported cases of Salmonellosis.

No particular reason has been given for the outbreak.

“Our advice is to always take care when storing, handling and cooking these types of frozen breaded chicken products to help reduce the risk of food poisoning to you and your family,” said FSA chief operating officer Colin Sullivan.

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

“Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.”

Which other products currently have a Salmonella risk?

Chicken is not the only product to have a Salmonella risk at the moment.

The brand’s owner Ferrero said it will halt production at the plant until it is “certified by the authorities”.

Kinder products disappeared from shelves in the run up to Easter over Salmonella fears (image: AFP/Getty Images)

It acknowledged “internal inefficiencies, creating delays in retrieving and sharing information in a timely manner” and said these had “impacted the speed and effectiveness of the investigations”.

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

Whole honeydew, cantaloupe and galia melons that came from Costa Rica or Honduras and were bought either on or before 28 May 2021 are affected.

They should be thrown away as a precaution, the FSA said.

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