Listeria are bacteria that cause a dangerous foodborne illness called listeriosis. Eating food contaminated with Listeria can cause serious illness, especially in pregnant people and those with weakened immune systems.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), listeriosis has a
- pregnant people (as well as fetuses and newborns)
- older adults
- people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have:
This article will outline some foods that can contain Listeria and provide prevention tips and swaps. It will also cover treatment methods, symptoms, and when a person should contact a doctor.
Microgreens and salads pack a burst of flavor, but they
- Wash the hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before and after preparing leafy greens.
- Remove the outer leaves.
- Remove any torn or bruised leaves.
- Rinse the leafy greens under running water and rub the leaves to remove dirt.
- Dry leafy greens using a clean towel.
|buying packaged salads made in stores||making salads at home, avoiding contamination|
According to the
Unpasteurized, or “raw,” milk can contain Listeria, as can products made from unpasteurized milk.
Dairy products can also become contaminated during processing, regardless of whether they contain pasteurized or unpasteurized milk.
|eating soft cheeses and unpasteurized milk products, such as:|
eating hard or processed cheeses, such as:
soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk
Fruit juices can also contain Listeria if they are not pasteurized or heated to a high temperature.
|drinking unpasteurized, freshly squeezed juice||drinking canned or “from concentrate” juices|
The United States Department of Agriculture state that uncooked meat can contain Listeria.
Cooking raw meats such as beef, pork, or poultry above a certain temperature can kill bacteria.
The following temperatures for different types of meat can kill Listeria:
|Whole meats||Ground meats||Poultry |
(ground or whole)
|Cooking temperature||145°F (63°C)||160°F (71°C)||165°F (74°C)|
|Standing time||3 minutes||0 minutes||0 minutes|
Thoroughly cooking sprouts will help kill bacteria such as Listeria and Escherichia coli.
|eating raw sprouts||eating cooked sprouts or other raw vegetables (washed well)|
|eating undercooked eggs||cooking eggs so that the white and the yolk are both solid|
Some types of smoked fish
People could use smoked fish as part of another well-cooked dish, such as a casserole.
|buying smoked fish from a deli counter||buying canned smoked fish|
Melons, especially pre-sliced melons,
People can refrigerate sliced melons to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. They should eat it within a week.
Deli meats and hot dogs
When handling deli meats and hot dogs, people should thoroughly clean all cooking surfaces.
According to the
Individuals at high risk should avoid eating these foods unless they have been cooked thoroughly to 165°F (74°C).
|eating readymade, cold hot dogs and deli meats||cooking the same foods until steaming hot|
Unlike other bacteria, Listeria can continue to grow in food — even in cold temperatures.
|Ideal refrigerator temperature||Ideal freezer temperature|
|40°F (4°C)||0°F (-18°C)|
If a person has contracted listeriosis but is otherwise healthy, they may not require treatment. The illness could
In severe cases, doctors
If a person develops a severe infection due to Listeria, a doctor will give them intravenous antibiotics. This is a relatively common treatment option.
It can take a long time for symptoms of the infection to show up. In healthy adults, symptoms can begin from 2 days to 3 weeks after a person has consumed the bacteria.
In healthy people who are not pregnant and do not have a weakened immune system, symptoms usually occur very quickly — within about 24 hours of consuming contaminated food.
Some symptoms of the illness include:
Some people also experience a severe headache or a stiff neck.
In people at high risk, such as older adults over 60 years and people with weakened immune systems, severe symptoms may develop.
These symptoms may
During pregnancy and in newborns
According to the
If a newborn contracts listeriosis, it can lead to death.
Pregnant people are 10 times more likely to contract listeriosis than other people.
However, pregnant Hispanic people are 24 times more likely to contract listeriosis than other people. According to the
Pregnant people who suspect that they may have listeriosis should contact a doctor as soon as possible.
According to the
However, the illness can cause a host of problems for a fetus or newborn. It can also cause pregnancy loss, premature birth, and stillbirth. Up to 30% of newborns with listeriosis die.
People with conditions that limit immune system function and those who are taking medications that suppress the immune system should contact a doctor if they suspect that they have any type of food poisoning.
Older adults over the age of 60 years also have a higher chance of developing complications if they eat food contaminated with Listeria.
Cooking foods at a high temperature, storing them correctly, and washing them correctly can all help prevent listeriosis. A person can also avoid consuming any high risk food altogether.
Older adults, pregnant people, and those with weakened immune systems should be careful about the foods they consume. These individuals are more likely than others to develop a serious infection after consuming foods contaminated with Listeria.
If a person suspects that they have eaten contaminated food and are at high risk of experiencing listeriosis complications, they should contact a doctor.