How to Recognize Salmonella Symptoms If You’ve Eaten Contaminated Products
First it was Honey Smacks cereal, then Ritz Crackers, and now Xtra Cheddar Goldfish. The number of pantry products affected by a multistate Salmonella outbreak seems to grow by the day, and if you’ve chowed down on at least one of those on the past few weeks, the news can sound pretty scary.
Luckily no one’s reported an illness from eating Ritz or Goldfish yet. Both companies recalled the affected snacks out of an abundance of caution since they contain potentially contaminated whey powder from a shared supplier. The same reason necessitated the recent Swiss roll recall as well.
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“Whey protein is an animal protein isolate made during cheese production by separating liquid from solids,” explains Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “It’s then used as a food texture modifying agent or to increase protein content.”
On the flipside, more than 70 people have fallen ill after reportedly eating Honey Smacks, a recall unconnected to the tainted whey powder. So what’s the deal with Salmonella bacteria? Here’s what you should know about if you’re worried about yourself or your kids getting sick:
Symptoms of Salmonella Poisoning
Salmonella is a bacteria that usually lives in human and animal intestines that’s shed through feces. People usually get infected through contaminated food or water, causing a common bacterial infection called salmonellosis.
Overall, Salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most people never develop symptoms, but they otherwise usually appear 12 to 72 hours after infection.
Here’s what you should look out for:
- Abdominal cramps
- Blood in stool
How Is Salmonellosis Diagnosed?
A Salmonella infection can last between two and seven days, although it may take months before bowel movements return to normal, the Mayo Clinic states.
To confirm a case of salmonellosis, your doctor will likely need a stool or blood sample. The lab can also then report the case to public health authorities to further understand the outbreak.
While many people recover in a few days without treatment, sometimes dehydration due to persistent diarrhea can require hospitalization. In rare cases, the infection can spread from the intestines to other parts of the body, necessitating a course of antibiotics.
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Infected children, elderly, and immunocompromised people should especially seek medical attention. (Children under the age of 5 have higher rates of Salmonella infection than any other age group.)
How Can I Prevent Salmonella?
First things first, throw away any recalled products or return them for a refund. If you stored your cereals or snacks in reusable containers, wash those out with soap and warm water too, the CDC advises.
However, eating contaminated processed foods isn’t the only way you can get infected with Salmonella. Consuming improperly cooked poultry, meat, eggs, or unpasteurized milk can also put you at risk. That’s why the CDC has also issued a recent alert about raw turkey products, which have sickened 90 people in the past few months.
- Always washing your hands when preparing or eating food, before and after touching animals, using the restroom, or changing diapers.
- Cooking raw poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Preventing cross-contamination by washing your counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
- Never washing raw poultry before cooking. It can spread germs to other areas.
- Watching out for foods that contain raw eggs, like homemade Hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, cookie dough, frostings, and eggnog.
- Sending undercooked food back to the kitchen if you’re eating out.
- Washing fruits and vegetables, and preparing them on a different cutting board than meat.
- Never letting small children handle reptiles (especially small turtles), baby chicks, or other young birds.
Watch Out for These Current Recalls
Check your pantry and fridge for all of the snacks below and click on the links to get specific UPC codes, sizes, and expiration dates:
- Goldfish: Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar, Flavor Blasted Sour Cream & Onion, Baked with Whole Grain Xtra Cheddar, Xtra Cheddar + Pretzel Mix
- Ritz: Ritz Bits Cheese, Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, Bacon Cracker Sandwiches With Cheese, Whole Wheat Cracker Sandwiches With White Cheddar Cheese, Everything Cracker Sandwiches With Cream Cheese, cookie and cracker variety packs including Ritz
- Swiss Rolls: Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square, Great Value
- Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread
- Hy-Vee pasta salad
- Honey Smacks cereal
- Pre-cut melon