How a bag of chips can give you salmonella

Yes, even chips can give you salmonella.

When I’m dealing with raw chicken, I know that it needs to be thoroughly cooked though to avoid any risk of salmonella.

When I eat chips, I don’t think of salmonella at all -– which is why the recall of Old Dutch Cheddar and Sour Cream chips due to possible contamination was a huge surprise to me.

Humans contract salmonella from swallowing the bacteria, and contaminated foods usually come from animal sources, particularly in the form of raw meat. That being said, as long as you cook your food through thoroughly the salmonella bacteria will be killed and your food will be safe to consume.

So apart from raw or undercooked meat, what can lead to salmonella infection in something like potato chips?

In an email from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a representative told Yahoo Canada Style that the seasoning mix used for Old Dutch Cheddar and Sour Cream chips had been made using milk powder that had been recalled in the U.S. due to potential contamination. According to the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration), the seasoning is applied after the product has been cooked.

Yikes!

Food can also be contaminated with salmonella if it is handled by a person who has not thoroughly washed their hands after dealing with contaminated foods or have been in contact with an infected animal (birds, reptiles, cats and dogs, other small pets).

If someone has contracted salmonella, they can be contagious from anywhere between several days to several weeks. If a contagious person has not properly washed their hands after using the bathroom, they can also pass on the bacteria to food.

For those that do become infected with the bacteria, short-term symptoms include chills, fever, vomiting, headache and diarrhea. While most healthy people will recover from it, for children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems it can require hospitalization and can even potentially be fatal.

So how do you stay safe?

Follow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for updates on foods that have been recalled. For your own safety, always wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and make sure utensils, counters or anything that comes into contact with raw meet is thoroughly cleaned. Ensure your poultry, pork and ground beef are always thoroughly cooked and avoid raw or undercooked eggs and unpasteurized dairy products.

It might seem a bit overwhelming, but given that 1 in 8 Canadians are affected by a food-borne illness every year, we should all be as careful as possible.

Let us know what you think about the recall by tweeting @YahooStyleCA.