How Can I Avoid Getting Sick From Listeria-Contaminated Food?

Image courtesy of (Meggito)

Listeria-contaminated food has been in the news lately due to massive ice cream recalls from regional companies Blue Bell and Jeni’s. Ice cream isn’t usually where you find listeria, but it’s possible to contract listeriosis from frozen treats because the bacteria can survive below-freezing temperatures, and you don’t cook ice cream. How can you avoid illness from listeria? There are no guaranteed ways to eradicate it from the food supply, but there are precautions that you can take.

Our colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports put together a great Q&A about where Listeria monocytogenes comes from originally, how it ends up in our food and most importantly how to keep it from multiplying.

Stereotypical candidates to carry listeria are soft cheeses (whether they’re made from pasteurized or unpasteurized milk) and deli meats, but cross-contamination and other bacteria-carrying vectors mean that bacteria can go from fruits or vegetables to insufficiently-cleaned machinery, theoretically contaminating entire batches of prepared foods.

Here’s one important thing to keep in mind: You should use up your meal leftovers within four days or so, but one thing that can affect the growth of Listeria in your refrigerated or frozen foods is the temperature of your fridge and freezer.

Prevent food poisoning from listeria bacteria [Consumer Reports]

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