Some Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Illness From Listeria Bacteria

Some Canteloupe has recently been found to carry listeria bacteria Recent news articles have reported a rather alarming number of illnesses and deaths in some states caused by listeriosis associated with cantaloupes and lettuce.

See for example recent reports by CBS on 18 deaths caused by listera in canteloupes, and by the Wall Street Journal on FDA discovery of listeria in lettuce.

In addition, a new Consumer Update by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, “Listeria has also been linked to a variety of ready-to-eat foods, including unpasteurized milk and dairy products, Mexican-style or soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, processed deli meats, hot dogs, smoked seafood and store-prepared deli-salads. Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says the FDA is aware of cases of foodborne illness caused by bacteria that can live in the kitchen and spread to foods.”

The FDA advises that unlike most bacteria, Listeria germs can grow and spread in the refrigerator causing the germs to contaminate other foods.

Here Are some tips from the FDA on how to keep Listeria out of your kitchen:

  • Even if you plan to peel the produce first, wash all fruits and vegetables under running water just before cutting, cooking or eating.
  • Using a produce brush, scrub produce such as melons, peppers, and cucumbers.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is at 40 degrees F or lower and the freezer is at 0 degrees F or lower.
  • Use ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can. Don’t keep them around, and don’t use after the “Use By” date on the package.
  • Seal up foods in plastic bags, or covered containers, or wrap them in plastic wrap.
  • Throw out refrigerator food leftovers after three days as a precaution.
  • Clean your refrigerator regularly and clean up spills in your refrigerator from lunchmeat packages, juices, raw meat and poultry right away using a paper towel.
  • Wash your hands and your kitchen surfaces often.
  • Wash porous cutting boards with warm, soapy water after each use. Nonporous boards can be washed in the dishwasher.
  • Wash dishtowels and cloth grocery bags often using the hot cycle of your washing machine.

More Information

See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

FDA Tips For Cleaning Fruits and Vegetables

Proper Hand Washing May Prevent 80% of All Infections

See also the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

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