Listeria Hysteria: Top 5 Facts
A food recall is a voluntary action by a manufacturer or distributor to protect the public from products that may cause health problems or possible death. It’s intended to remove food products from commerce when there is reason to believe the products may be contaminated or misbranded.
1. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.
· It’s naturally found in soil, water, and in the intestinal tract of some animals, including poultry and cattle
· It can be present in raw milk and foods made from raw milk
· It can live in food processing plants and contaminate a variety of processed meats
· Listeria is unlike many other germs because it can grow in the cold temperature of the refrigerator and survive in the freezer. It is killed by cooking and pasteurization
2. Listeria sources include:
· Ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs
· Refrigerated pâtés or meat spread
· Unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products
· Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, such as Latin American white cheeses, feta, Brie, and Camembert
· Raw sprouts
· Delicatessen salads
3. Symptoms usually begin 1 to 4 weeks after eating contaminated food
· Listeria gastroenteritis: fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms usually resolve in 5 to 10 days
· Invasive listeriosis: This happens when bacteria enter the bloodstream from the intestines and invade organs, such as the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), the eyes, heart valves (endocarditis), or, in pregnant women, the uterus.
Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Listeria bacteria can spread to the baby through the placenta.
4. Listeriosis is diagnosed when a bacterial culture grows Listeria monocytogenes from a tissue or fluid sample, such as blood, spinal fluid, or the placenta. It is treated with antibiotics.
· If you have eaten food that has been recalled for listeria, you should seek medical care if you have a fever and other symptoms within two months of eating the possibly contaminated food. This is especially important if you are pregnant, age 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system
· Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as meat, poultry, or seafood
· Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that are prepared with unpasteurized milk
· Keep uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods
· Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible
· Persons in higher risk groups should heat hot dogs, cold cuts, and deli meats before eating them
· Prophylactic measures are especially needed for high-risk people: older adults, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems
A list of food recalls can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/AJAX/All/
For more information about Listeria, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/listeria