May 21, 2024

FDA Offers Tips to Prevent Listeria Monocytogenes Illness

The FDA is offering tips to prevent Listeria monocytogenes illnesses. There is a mystery Listeria outbreak on the FDA’s CORE Outbreak Investigation Table that has sickened at least 11 people in 10 states, as well as an ongoing listeriosis outbreak that is linked to Utopia Foods and Sun Hong Foods enoki mushrooms.

FDA Offers Tips to Prevent Listeria Monocytogenes Illness

It’s important to know that some foods are more likely to be contaminated with this dangerous and often deadly pathogen. They include ready to eat refrigerated foods such as deli meats and cheeses, unpasteurized milk, and foods made with unpasteurized milk.

The people most at risk for serious complications from this food poisoning infection include pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, anyone with a compromised immune system, and anyone with a chronic illness, along with newborns and transplant patients.

To reduce your risk from Listeria, there are three steps you  can take. First, chill foods at the correct temperature. While Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, that growth is slowed. Make sure that your refrigerator is lower than 40°F. Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure the temperature is safe.

Second, use ready to eat foods that are more vulnerable to Listeria contamination quickly. Always use them by the use by date stamped on the package. These foods include deli meats and cheese, soft cheese such as queso fresco, and sliced luncheon meats as well as hot dogs. Other risky foods include raw sprouts, refrigerated pates and meat spreads, and smoked fish. The longer these foods are stored in the fridge, the more chances Listeria has to grow.

Third, keep your refrigerator clean. Wipe up spills right away so Listeria doesn’t have a chance to grow and spread to other foods. Once this pathogen becomes established in an environment it can be very difficult to eradicate. Clean your fridge properly, with hot water and a mild dishwashing detergent. If you are discarding a food that has been recalled for potential Listeria contamination, use a mild bleach solution.

And keep up to date with food recalls and outbreak announcements. Know the symptoms of foodborne illness so you can get medical attention quickly.

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