WASHINGTON – Roasting a whole pig is a complex process, and some individuals got it wrong in Washington State. The Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert after officials in Washington State reported 56 individuals in eight counties were sickened bySalmonellaassociated with whole pigs used for pig roasts.

FSIS was notified ofSalmonellaillness clusters on July 15; illness onset dates ranged from April 25 to July 21. On July 23, public health officials in Washington State announced that the 56 cases included residents of King (44), Snohomish (4), Mason (2), Thurston (2), Pierce (1), Grays Harbor (1), Yakima (1), and Clark (1) counties. Five individuals were hospitalized with Salmonellosis, but no one has died.

Salmonellainfection can cause severe and even bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort and vomiting. Serious bloodstream infections may also occur, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

“Roasting a pig is a complex undertaking with numerous potential food-handling issues,” FSIS said in the alert. “FSIS urges consumers to keep the four food safety steps in mind:

CLEAN:Obtain your pig from a reputable supplier. Have the supplier wrap it in plastic, or a large plastic bag to contain the juices. Keep the pig cold until it is time to cook it. If you can’t keep it under refrigeration or on ice, consider picking it up just before you are ready to cook it.

SEPARATE:Anything that comes into contact with whole pig should be washed with hot soapy water afterwards. This includes hands and utensils.

COOK:FSIS recommends that all pork products are cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145º F with a three minute rest time. Make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

CHILL:Once the meat is cooked, transfer to clean serving dishes. Pack leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate within 1-2 hours. It is not necessary to cool before you refrigerate it.”

Health officials noted that the only way to determine doneness in a whole roasted pig is by using a meat thermometer that measures internal temperature. Whole cuts of pork should be cooked to 145°F with a three minute resting time. Meat thermometers should be placed in the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bone, fat and cartilage.