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As summer approaches, families are packing coolers and heading out to the parks and beaches for long, lazy days in the sun. Deviled eggs, egg salad and potato salad with eggs are just a few staple dishes commonly found on the picnic lineup.

Eggs are delicious, protein-packed and a great food for meals-on-the-go. What many egg connoisseurs are unaware of, however, is that eggs and other foods can harbor unwelcome guests that have the potential to cause serious illnesses.

Perhaps the most well-known bacteria that harbors within eggs is salmonella, which causes nearly 1.4 million foodborne illness cases annually in the U.S. If the name doesn’t raise a brow, then these salmonella food poisoning symptoms may do the trick-fevers of more than 101.5 degrees, diarrhea lasting longer than 3 days, bloody stools and prolonged vomiting. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after ingesting infected food, and it is recommended that you see your doctor if symptoms worsen.

Salmonella is not exclusive to eggs. The bacteria can find its way into certain types of fruits and vegetables; raw or partially-cooked meats such as pork and chicken; and even cheese. The most important precaution to avoiding salmonella is proper food storage.

Keep eggs and other perishables in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re not using them. And when you’re at a picnic or barbeque, leave foods containing eggs on ice or in the refrigerator until serving time; only leave them out long enough for everyone to load up their plates. Also be sure to throw away fruit that is visibly over-ripened or rotten, and always be sure to cook pork and chicken all the way through. A meat thermometer can help take the guesswork out of this process.

Eggs are a nutritious meal and a fantastic source of protein. Keep these tasty ingredients cold and fresh so you can enjoy a healthy, salmonella-free summer!

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