In our newly launched series, we examine the different microorganism occurring in restaurants and public catering. How do they look like? How can they enter our foods, and how can we avoid this? Of the microbes and bacteria that can be found in the kitchens, Salmonella is perhaps the best known. Let us then start our series with "it"!
Salmonella can boast of a very large family: there are 2500 of its species are known. These include, among others, the pathogen of typhoid fever, bur all of its types cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Its frequency of occurrence is shown by the fact that there were 649 registered cases in Hungary during the first 10 weeks of last year, while there were 677 cases over the same period this year, according to the statistics of the National Center for Epidemiology. And it is not even in season yet, because it prefers the summer, since excellent conditions for its spreading are ensured by heat, humidity, and even ice cream (!).
Salmonella is a genus of rod-shaped bacteria, and most of them are able to move, because they possess the flagella necessary for this.
What is salmonellosis and what are its symptoms?
Salmonellosis is the general name of diseases caused by salmonella bacteria. Symptoms are always related to the digestive tract, therefore, nausea, spasmodic abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common signs. First symptoms can occur 12-48 hours after ingestion, although longer incubation periods have been observed. Its course usually takes 1-4 days, but there are longer recovery periods as well.
How can Salmonella get into our kitchen and into our foods?
The most common way is taking it into the kitchen with contaminated raw material, but it can also enter from water and, of course, from the kitchen worker itself. Since it develops and proliferates in the intestines, it reaches the outside world with the feces or with eggs. Thus, infection usually enters our kitchen with raw dishes that are not sufficiently baked or cooked. Utensils and surfaces can also get contaminated by these raw materials, which can then spoil other, not infected raw materials. Contamination can also enter with an infected bur asymptomatic person. Proliferation can be facilitated by storing the food at a lukewarm (8-45 °C) place for longer times, approximately 2-3 hours.
How can infection be prevented?
Salmonella does not like heat. Thorough baking and cooking of foods kills the bacteria. If the temperature of the inside of the food (core temperature) of a boiled or baked food is measured and it reaches or exceeds 75 °C, then we only have to worry about the opinion of our guests, not about infection.
If, by chance, more food is prepared than is consumed, or if we worked in advance, then the remaining portions have to be cooled down and placed in a refrigerator. Our bacterium feel excellent at room temperature, and it begins to proliferate immediately. So dishes put aside have to be brought to a boil again before use, it is not enough to simply warm them up.
Do not mix raw materials and the finished dishes, because this way our food that was prepared with excellent care can become contaminated, and so we can ruin our work.
Personal hygiene is very important! Always wash and sanitize your hands before preparing food, or when finishing an operation. If we do not pay attention to this and do not make a conscious effort, then carefully baked or cooked and not cross-contaminated foods can be ruined by the careless worker.
Last but not least, I would like to draw your attention to kitchen hygiene. Do not give room to grow to bacteria. A clean, well-ventilated kitchen is one of the major obstacles to the spreading of an infection. So, before work, during work and after work, clean, clean, clean...
If we pay attention to and keep all of the above, then, hopefully, our guests will only remember the heavenly taste and flavor of the excellently prepared food.
For catering businesses that are actually taking hygiene and the importance of regular monitoring seriously, and who would like to stand out from the competition by providing safe and high quality service to their customers, we are happy to offer the use of our TOP-Hygiene system.
The TOP-Hygiene certification and seal guarantees to entrepreneurs a high standard of hygiene, credibility, safety and trust.
The next bacterium of our series will be Listeria monocytogenes, so please return to the TOP-Hygiene site often, where we will present the important news and legal and laboratory background of the HORECA sector, in addition to the certification system.