(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
After a new sub-species of salmonella – enteritidis A – was recently identified in Israel, the Agriculture and Health ministries have cautioned the public to take certain steps to prevent illness.
The ministries are currently conducting investigations in order to identify the presence of the salmonella bacteria in specific Israeli poultry products and destroy it at its origin. Both poultry and egg production and distribution systems are being reviewed, in order to pinpoint the possible sources of contamination, a joint statement from the ministries said.
“Every year we see at this time of year an increase in salmonella morbidity,” said Prof. Itamar Grotto, head of Public Health Services at the Health Ministry.
“This time, there has been an appearance of a strain of salmonella not yet identified in Israel in the past, and it causes a relatively high morbidity rate.”
Although members of the public do not need to refrain from consuming cooked poultry or eggs, there are certain precautionary measures that the ministries recommend taking.
Fully cooking all chicken, ground beef and eggs is critical, as doing so destroys the bacteria, the ministries said in a statement. Foods containing unpasteurized raw eggs or milk should not be consumed, the statement added.
Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator and should be consumed immediately after they are prepared, according to the ministries. Washing hands and all work surfaces that come into contact with raw meats of any kind with soap and water is also vital, as is preparing meat on surfaces and utensils separate from those used for other foods, the statement said.
Following all the aforementioned rules is particularly important when it comes to handling food for infants, the elderly or anyone who is immunocompromised, the ministries explained. In addition, parents should be careful not to work with raw meat and then handle their babies without washing their hands thoroughly, the recommendations concluded.
Because there is an increased risk associated with eggs sold by unauthorized suppliers, Dr. Nadav Galon, director of Veterinary Services at the Agriculture Ministry, advised that members of the public purchase their eggs at retail chains, shops and supermarkets.
“Salmonella is a bacterium that is very common in the environment and in a wide variety of food products,” Galon said. “However, we decided to strengthen and expand its monitoring in order to ensure that fewer salmonella bacteria will reach the consumer via eggs or poultry.”