Poultry Processing

Why Is Salmonella Heidelberg Different?

Recently, Salmonella Heidelberg found in poultry has been making the news. What is different about this particular strain of Salmonella that makes it such a concern? Aren’t all Salmonella strains the same? The answer is no. This particular strain of Salmonella has demonstrated resistance to antibiotics, which is bad news for the young, elderly, and immune-depressed individuals. People with normal-functioning immune systems may experience tummy problems that usually pass (no pun intended) within a few days, but for those mentioned previously who are not as fortunate, the problems can be more severe. In certain cases, Salmonella Heidelberg can even be life threatening if the organism gets in the bloodstream, resulting in septicemia.

While you may have heard about some recalls on poultry contaminated with this organism, the recall is not mandatory from the USDA because proper cooking will kill Salmonella Heidelberg. We all know that poultry needs to be fully cooked (165° Fahrenheit) in order to be considered safe to eat.  It is also very important to make sure that the juices from the poultry do not contaminate dishes, knives, countertops, etc. Recently, has put a lot of food safety information on its website, especially relating to safe handling and cooking procedures. It is definitely worth viewing.  Don’t play chicken with food safety – be educated and stay healthy!

Elis Owens, Ph.D., Director, Technical Services, Birko, can be reached at [email protected], 303-289-1090.