Listeria is a bacterium found in the environment. And, a concern for foodborne illness in pregnant women and older adults. Unlike Salmonella and E. Coli which can be controlled by high temperatures, Listeria will grow at refrigeration temperatures. This makes it more of a concern especially with deli foods.
Healthy people do not normally have to worry about contracting Listeria. But it is a concern for the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of this foodborne illness include fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. More serious symptoms are meningitis and septicemia.
If you are in the groups of people who should be concerned, select foods less likely to be contaminated.
- INSTEAD OF CHOOSING: Cold hot dogs, deli meats and luncheon meats out of the package.
- CHOOSE: Hot dogs, luncheon and deli meats reheated to steaming hot.
- INSTEAD OF CHOOSING: Cold salads made in the store such as ham, chicken, egg, tuna or seafood.
- CHOOSE: Meat, egg, and seafood salads that you make at home.
- INSTEAD OF CHOOSING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and milk products.
- CHOOSE: Pasteurized milk and milk products.
- INSTEAD OF CHOOSING: Raw or undercooked eggs.
- CHOOSE: Eggs that are cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm.
- INSTEAD OF CHOOSING: Undercooked meat, poultry or seafood.
- CHOOSE: Fully cooked meat, poultry and seafood.
You can also control Listeria in your home by making sure your sinks, counter-tops and cooking utensils are cleaned with hot soapy water before and after cooking food.
For more information check out the Ohioline Fact Sheet: Listeria monocytogenes: A Concern for Pregnant Women and Older Adults http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5562.pdf
Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.