Food Safety, Preparation and Storage Tips
Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the University of Arizona
Listeria is a food-borne illness caused by bacteria that is able to grow in the refrigerator. In recent years outbreaks have been linked to contaminated coleslaw, milk, and cheese. Listeria is caused by bacteria found in soil, water and plant matter. Listeria can be present in raw milk and soft cheese products or raw vegetables. Poultry, meats like hot dogs and lunch meat and prepared, ready-to eat foods may also have the bacteria.
Flu-like symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, chills and fever in otherwise healthy adults generally begin 2 to 3 days after contaminated food is eaten. In newborn infants, it can cause meningitis which is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, severe retardation and even death. The elderly and those who are already ill or who have lowered immunity are also at high risk after eating food contaminated by listeria.
Fortunately, poisoning from Listeria and most food-borne illness CAN be prevented.
Food processors also have a responsibility in preventing Listeria through careful monitoring procedures. Prevention is the responsibility of food processors as well as consumers.
Listeria can be prevented by following these guidelines:
Remember, you can control food-borne illness by proper cooking and handling techniques.
Material written by Mary Abgrall and Scottie Misner, June 1998.