Listeria is one of the top foodborne bacterias you do not want in your food or kitchen. Lately, there has been several recalls from well known big stores and food companies recalling products, such as, frozen vegetables and chicken salads. Listeria can make people sick, shut down organs, and even death.
So, what actually is listeria?
Listeria causes an infection called listeriosis. Contaminated food is almost always what spreads it. Listeriosis is a foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes - bacteria found in soil and water. It can be found in a variety of raw foods as well as in processed foods and foods made from unpasteurized milk. Listeria is not like many other bacterias because it can grow even in the cold temperature of the refrigerator.
Animals can carry the bacteria and pass it to foods.
Is listeria highly dangerous?
Yes, for some. Anyone can get the illness. This foodborne bacteria isn't serious for most health adults and children. But, it can be deadly for certain at risk groups, such as:
- Pregnant women and their babies
- Older adults
- People with weakened immune systems, such as, HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease
What are the symptoms?
Listeriosis symptoms can take a few days, or even weeks, to appear. Symptoms include:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle aches
- Stiff neck
- Mild flu-like symptoms
What can we do to reduce the risk?
Food safety experts recommend these strategies for reducing your risk of listeriosis:
- Skip it. Avoid raw milk and raw milk products.
- Chill it. Listeria can grow in cool temperatures - but it grows slower in the cold. Keep your refrigerator setting at 40 degree F (4 degree C) or lower- and your freezer at 0 degree F (minus 18 degree C) or lower.
- Separate it. Put raw meats in sealed containers so drippings can't get on other foods.
- Wash it. Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables. Before eating, rinse fresh produce under running water, even if it will be peeled. Scrub firm items, such as melons, with a clean produce brush. (I particularly soak my fresh fruits and vegetables in equal parts of vinegar and water for a few minutes then wash it off. Vinegar kills off germs and bacteria)
- Heat it. You can help kill listeria by heating food well. Heat ready to eat foods and leftover until they are steaming hot. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil when reheating.
- Toss it. Don't keep leftovers for more than three days. Use ready to eat, refrigerated items, such as, deli meats, as soon as possible.
- Scrub it. Wipe up spills right away. And regularly wash the inside of your fridge with hot water and a mild dish detergent. After rinsing dry surfaces with paper towels.
What is the treatment for listeriosis?
Antibiotics can treat listeriosis. If you're in one of the high risk groups above and suspect an infection, see your doctor or medical assistance right away.
Quick additional tips?
Here are additional tips for getting rid of germs from your kitchen:
- After each use, wash wooden cutting boards in warm, soapy water.
- Clean nonporous cutting boards in the dishwasher.
- Frequently wash laundry cloth grocery bags and dish towels in the hot cycle.
- Wash hands after handling hot dogs, deli meats, and raw meats.
As always I highly suggest you take probiotics supplements daily.
Be safe and remember these tips!