Not a Good Thing: Martha Stewart Gets Salmonella from Turkeys

The domestic goddess contracted the common foodborne illness over Thanksgiving

Apparently some rogue turkeys tried to take out Martha Stewart -- but they failed.

The domestic doyenne recently suffered from a bout of salmonella, the most common foodborne illness. Stewart believes her nonstop Thanksgiving preparations and turkey wrangling (she raises her own birds in the backyard, natch) caused the brief period of bad health.

“I never get sick, but I came down with salmonella. I think I caught it because I was handling so many turkeys around Thanksgiving. I was on the ‘Today’ show, I did a number of other [Thanksgiving] appearances. It really hit me hard and I was in bed for days. It was terrible,” Stewart told New York Post’s Page Six.

Raw meat, poultry, eggs and even fruits and veggies can be contaminated with salmonella, which is found in animal feces. If the foods are not cooked properly or handled safely (as in Martha’s case), the bacteria can be transmitted to humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 42,000 cases of salmonellosis (the infection resulting from exposure to salmonella bacteria) are reported in the U.S. every year. But the actual number of infections may be 30 times greater because oftentimes milder cases aren’t diagnosed or reported.

Some people experience no symptoms, but most suffer from diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 8 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated food, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Additional symptoms include chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. In most cases, medical treatment isn’t needed, and symptoms usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. But infections can be life-threatening for infants, pregnant women, and older adults.

For a healthy holiday feasting season, follow the USDA’s food handling guidelines: 

  • Wash your hands often with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in your fridge, and wash cutting boards, dishes, countertops and utensils with hot soapy water after use.
  • Use a clean food thermometer when measuring the internal temperature of cooked meat and poultry. Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 °F; raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 °F; and poultry to 165 °F.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours.
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