Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: They warn of an increase in salmonella by more than 30% between 2015 and 2019

In recent years we have witnessed cases of Salmonella infections in educational establishments and restaurants, a situation that, added to the popularization of Japanese and Peruvian food, with preparations such as sushi and ceviches, have contributed to the increase in annual cases of this microorganism, in more than 30% since 2015 in Chile.

Paola San Martín , academic of the Nutrition and Dietetics career , explains that according to information provided by the Department of Statistics and Health Information (DEIS) of the MINSAL, between 7-10% of the outbreaks of foodborne diseases (ETAs) in Chile are due to the loss of safety in domestic handling .

“In the summer months we have access to a great variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and it is important to take care of how to store and process these products, because foodborne illnesses can arise, specifically those caused by contamination, due to agents biologicals such as s almonella and escherichia coli “, explains the academic.

In the case of salmonella, it is a biological agent, an anaerobic bacterium that produces a gastrointestinal infection with symptoms such as fever, diarrhea and vomiting , which appear between 6 to 72 hours after ingestion, depending on each person. The specialist points out that in more serious cases, hospitalization is even necessary to treat infection and dehydration, and there are more and more cases of hospital admissions for this cause.

Regarding the route of infection through other foods such as eggs , San Martín advises washing them when they are going to be used, and not before , since in this way the protective film that this food has is lost and could facilitate the entry of microorganisms inside of this. For its consumption, it indicates to cook at least 70 degrees Celsius , and avoid preparations with raw yolk such as egg in the glass or egg in the oyster .

“Although people recognize the risk of consuming raw meats in sushi, ceviches, seafood and raw, they do not realize the risk posed by fruits and vegetables , which are often watered with contaminated water,” explains Paola. In this sense, it explains the importance of applying certain safety protocols at home, washing food very well and avoiding cross contamination . That is, when food comes into contact with other foods that are cooked or not and that end up being contaminated as a result of the exchange of foreign substances.

The academic puts special caution in the most vulnerable population such as older adults, pregnant women and children under 5 years of age , who should avoid consuming raw meat or eggs, as well as carefully washing vegetables. San Martín points out that another outbreak of ETAs is listeria , which even causes fetal death in pregnant women. This bacterial agent, although it is of low occurrence, is of high severity, and has the ability to form biofilm, a kind of plaque of bacteria that adhere to surfaces and represent a risk in the food industry. It is associated with foods such as raw meats, cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products, cured meats and hams, among others.

The 5 safety rules according to the WHO
1. Maintain cleanliness and hygiene of food, surfaces and utensils . You can use 70% alcohol on plastic surfaces and boards, or a chlorinated water solution: 1 teaspoon of sodium hypochlorite (common bleach) in 3 liters of water. In addition, proper hand washing before preparing food, according to the ACHIPIA recommendations for washing and disinfection of fruits and vegetables.

2. Cook food thoroughly . Cook foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and fish to at least 70 degrees Celcius.

3. Keep food at a safe temperature (0 ° to 5 ° C in the refrigerator and hot at least 60 ° C). Warm temperatures favor the growth of bacteria. If you go to the supermarket, leave the purchase of refrigerated and frozen products until last, use an insulated bag until you get home and check that the frozen foods do not exude liquid or are agglomerated, that is, that they do not form large ice crystals , since it is a sign of loss of the cold chain.

4. Eat and buy food from reliable sources . Remember that they must have an expiration date and labeling. Food outlets, which have authorization given by the health entity, must meet minimum standards of good manufacturing practices, as well as pest control and a record of all processes to provide traceability of raw materials in case of infections and poisonings.

5. Avoid cross contamination. Separate raw foods from cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Use different equipment and utensils for different foods or wash and sanitize properly before changing foods.

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