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What Is Listeria?

What Is Listeria?

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

We hear about salmonella and e.coli relatively often nowadays but listeria, for the most part has avoided the limelight. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Like many foodborne illnesses, the disease causes the most serious problems to those with weakened immune systems including the elderly, pregnant women, and babies.

Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get sick and in fact, 17 percent of all cases are pregnant women. And without knowing it, a pregnant woman can pass it on to her unborn baby.

Itís the third most deadly foodborne illness with 1,600 becoming infected and 260 dying each year. The bacteria is found in soil and water and animals can carry the disease without even appearing to be ill.

According to the CDC:

Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in some ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria bacteria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.

Most recently, cantaloupes were found to be contaminated with listeria. According to the CDC, a total of 22 persons have been infected with the outbreak-associated strains of listeria. Hereís the breakdown by state: Colorado (12), Indiana (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (4), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2), and West Virginia (1). Two deaths have been reported, one in Colorado and one in New Mexico.

You can avoid listeria in much the same way you avoid other foodborne illnesses like properly cleaning raw foods, properly cooking meats, and eating ready-to-eat foods immediately. Pasteurization and cooking kills listeria. And most importantly, keep your immune system strong.

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Samantha, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


+ add your own
10:57PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Listeria are all over the environment. Only cause issues if immune system weakened. Other wise everyone would already be dead.

10:00PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

This is the biggest argument the FDA has for the pasteurization of milk and other drinks.

There have been cases, although rare, where the drinking of unpasteurized milk(raw milk) and passed the infection to their unborn baby.

When this happens, the baby is either still born or dies shortly after birth.

I actually advocate drinking local(know your source) raw milk UNLESS you are pregnant.

If you are a healthy adult, it does more good for you than harm. But not if you are pregnant, immune comprimised in any way(feeling sick, rundown, weak, feverish, unsure).

11:06AM PST on Jan 29, 2013

good to know

6:42AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

good to know

6:04PM PDT on Oct 11, 2011


7:31PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

thanks for the info

4:48PM PDT on Oct 8, 2011


9:58AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011


2:15PM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Where did it come from? many of the'south of the border'help have had proper health care,clean habits and give a dam* about the people of this country or just about making money to send back to their 'not good enough to live in' country

2:19PM PDT on Oct 2, 2011

thanks for the info

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