7 ways to protect yourself from Listeria

This article, entitled "7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Listeria," comes from Best Food Facts.

A favorite summer treat is ice cream. But with potential Listeria contamination in the past, what do consumers need to know? Here's the scoop:

What is Listeria?

Listeria is a bacteria found in soil and water, as well as in some animals like poultry and cattle. Unlike many other bacteria, Listeria can grow even in cold temperatures, including your refrigerator. It is only killed by cooking and pasteurization.

What foods can be contaminated by Listeria?

  • Raw foods like uncooked meats and veggies
  • Hot dogs
  • Deli meats and salads
  • Soft cheeses such as queso fresco, feta, brie or camembert
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Unpasteurized raw milk and cheese

Who is most at risk?

Listeria can affect people differently. Healthy people may not experience any symptoms, but those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women can become seriously ill from this foodborne illness. Symptoms include gastrointestinal distress and flu-like symptoms including headaches and muscle aches, fever, nausea and vomiting. In pregnant women, Listeria can affect the unborn fetus and lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or a very ill baby at birth.

Important Note: If you are very ill with any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. Antibiotics given promptly can cure the infection and in pregnant women can prevent infection of the fetus.

7 ways you can protect yourself from Listeria contamination:

  1. Rinse raw produce thoroughly before eating, cooking or cutting
  2. Scrub produce like melons and cucumbers firmly with a produce brush
  3. Dry produce with a clean paper towel
  4. Wash hands, utensils, counters and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods
  5. Clean and disinfect all spills from lunch meats, raw meat, hot dogs and poultry
  6. Cook all raw foods from animal sources to a safe internal temperature
  7. Avoid consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk and do not eat foods with unpasteurized milk in them

Watch the clip below for more information on Listeria from Best Food Facts advisor Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD.

About the Author...
Best Food Facts
Best Food Facts gives you the opportunity to connect with food system experts around the country who have done the research, checked their work and want to share the results.

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