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.