Salmonella: do's and don'ts

Once food has become contaminated with salmonella, it is very difficult to eliminate the bacteria. Freezing or refrigerating food will not kill salmonella, although it will stop the bacteria from reproducing. Peeling vegetables will not make fruits and vegetables safer to eat either, as the bacteria can spread to the inside of the vegetable.

Further, thoroughly cooking food can kill salmonella, but it does not guarantee that the food is safe to eat if proper food handling processes were not followed (e.g., if cross contamination occurred). Food that has been contaminated can still look, smell, and taste normal. If you know that food has been contaminated, throw it out.

To minimize your chances of getting or spreading infection with salmonella, follow these food safety tips:


  • Keep eggs in the coldest part of the fridge (generally near the back). Do not place them in the fridge door, where the temperature will fluctuate most.
  • Keep raw meat separate from other foods in your shopping cart while at the store, in the fridge, and during preparation. This will help prevent cross contamination.
  • Sanitize utensils and work area after preparing food using a dilute bleach solution. To prepare the sanitizer, add 5 mL (1 tsp) of bleach to 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a clearly labelled spray bottle. Spray utensils and work area and allow them to stand momentarily. Rinse utensils and work area with generous amounts of clean water, then dry with clean towels, or allow to air dry.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure that food has been properly cooked. This is the only way to ensure that food has reached a temperature high enough to kill any bacteria that may be present.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food, especially raw meat. Also, be sure to wash your hands after using the washroom, touching or playing with animals, and cleaning up after pets.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. Use a brush to scrub vegetables with firm exteriors (e.g., carrots, oranges, potatoes).


  • Defrost food at room temperature. Food should be defrosted either in the microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator, and it should be used promptly.
  • Eat eggs, meat, or poultry that have not been thoroughly cooked.
  • Eat products containing raw eggs (e.g., certain salad dressings, cookie dough, homemade hollandaise sauce). If you're preparing these foods at home, use pasteurized eggs. Bacteria such as salmonella are killed in the pasteurization process.
  • Eat unpasteurized dairy products (e.g., cheeses made from raw milk such as blue cheese, parmesan, etc).
  • Prepare food for other people if you have been diagnosed with salmonellosis. If you suspect that you may have a salmonella infection, wear disposable gloves when handling food.

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