Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Salmonella outbreak hits Washington – be prepared

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Salmonella outbreak hits Washington – be prepared https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Salmonella1-940x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

“Salmonella” is a word no one in the foodservice industry wants to hear. Unfortunately, Washington state is dealing with an outbreak of this food borne bacteria. So far, there have been 134 Salmonella cases in 10 Washington counties.

The number of Salmonella cases, county by county, is: Clark (2), Cowlitz (1), Grays Harbor (1), King (84), Kitsap (1), Mason (2), Pierce (12), Snohomish (24), Thurston (2) and Yakima (5) counties. Of these Salmonella cases, 15 people have been hospitalized.

The current outbreak has been traced to a Pierce County slaughter facility, Kapowsin Meats, located in Graham.  The company is cooperating with health officials.

Exposure for many of the people stricken with the infection apparently was through whole roasted pigs, served at private events and restaurants.

Salmonellosis, the illness caused by a Salmonella infection, has symptoms including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, fever, chills, muscle pains and headache. Recovery usually takes about a week, but some people who are infected require hospitalization. Over the long term, Salmonella infections can cause complications including irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, reactive arthritis, eye problems and heart disease. If you have eaten pork, especially from a whole roasted pig, and experience these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

This Salmonella outbreak is a stark reminder of the importance of proper food care, handling, preparation, and cooking in order to prevent illness. In the case of this specific outbreak, it is also essential to avoid eating raw or under-cooked pork.

“Roasting a pig is a complex undertaking with numerous potential food handling issues,” a  public health alert from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stated in a special alert. “FSIS urges consumers to keep the four food safety steps in mind: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.”

CLEAN: Make sure your pig comes from a reputable supplier. The supplier should wrap the pig in plastic or a large plastic bag that will contain its juices. Keep the pig cold until you’re ready to cook it. If you can’t refrigerated it or keep it on ice, it may be a good idea to pick it up shortly before you’re ready to cook it.

SEPARATE: Wash anything, including hands and utensils, that comes in contact with whole pig with hot, soapy water afterwards.

COOK: If you handle and/or eat pork, cook it to a safe internal temperature, measured with a meat thermometer; cook whole cuts of pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Place thermometers in the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bone, fat and cartilage. Make sure to check the internal temperature frequently with the thermometer in several places. Replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass that you’ll be able to serve within one to two hours.

CHILL: Once the meat is cooked, transfer it to clean serving dishes. Pack leftovers in shallow containers, refrigerating them within one to two hours.

Additional food safety tips:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after preparing food, especially raw meats.
  • Avoid contamination by never placing cooked food on a plate that previously held any kind of raw meat.
  • Sanitize cutting boards, knives and counter-tops that come into contact with raw meat with a bleach water (1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) solution or antibacterial cleaner.