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Your Local Deli Probably Has a Listeria Problem

Your Local Deli Probably Has a Listeria Problem

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A new study from Purdue University found that almost 10 percent of samples taken from retail delis contained listeria

We knew that foodborne illnesses are a problem in grocery stores and restaurants, but now you can add your local deli to the list.

When you order an Italian cold cut sandwich from your local deli, you probably don’t expect to catch anything worse than a mild case of carb hangover. However, a new study from Purdue University, which tested meat samples from 30 local and chain delis from across the country, found that 9.5 percent of the tested samples contained listeria: dangerous and possibly lethal strains of bacteria that cause the foodborne illness listeriosis.

The samples at each of the delis were tested over a six-month period, and bacteria were still found in most of the previously-affected samples over time, showing that listeria is persistent. Over the course of the study, only 30 percent of delis never tested positive for listeria.

According to the CDC, listeria, which causes 1,600 cases of foodborne illness nationwide annually (and kills one in eight people infected), the number of listeria cases are actually decreasing. However, listeriosis is still a serious problem: it is the most lethal of all common foodborne illnesses.

"We can't in good conscience tell people with weak immune systems that it is safe to eat at the deli," researcher Haley Oliver said in a press release. “This is a public health challenge.”

The Dangers You Need To Know About Cold Cuts

Cold cuts make for an easy meal: just snag a couple slices from the fridge, slap them in some bread with a bit of salad, and pretty soon you'll be the brown-bag ruler of the break room. But if you're not careful, that minor workplace lunch victory could come at a price beyond whatever the deli clerk charged you. Cold cuts occupy a wide region in the middle of the food spectrum, from verging on fine cuisine to slumming it with junk food. But as you will see, when it comes to sliced meats, the dangers are definitely class-blind.

The Risks of Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites prevent bacterial growth and give deli meat its dis­tinc­tive color and flavor. But there’s a downside. Nitrates convert to nitrites, and when nitrites interact with protein, that creates compounds called nitrosamines—which may cause cancer.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), an industry group, says that most nitrites in our diets come from veg­etables. “But there’s little protein in vegetables, so their nitrites don’t easily convert to nitrosamines,” says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist at CR. “It may also be that antioxidants or other compounds in vegetables prevent nitrites from becoming nitrosamines.”

Synthetic nitrites have been used since the 1920s to speed up the curing process. But when health concerns about them surfaced in the 1960s, some manufacturers began processing meat without any nitrites.

“These were gray, didn’t hold flavor, and were susceptible to bacterial spoilage,” Sebranek says. To alert consumers to those products, which are now rare, the Department of Agriculture required that they be labeled “uncured.”

Then, in the 1990s, companies developed new ways to cure meats with celery or other natural nitrate/nitrite sources. But the USDA decided that because the source of the compounds differed, meats made with them must be labeled “uncured” and “no nitrates or nitrites added,” Sebranek says, “even though everyone in the meat industry realizes it’s not technically correct.”

Though uncured meats must also be labeled with a statement that clarifies that they have nitrates and nitrites from natural sources, that language is usually buried in fine print and doesn’t explain that those compounds are chemically identical to synthetic ones.

Many meat processors believe that all deli meat should be labeled “cured,” no matter which curing process is used, according to NAMI.

“ ‘Uncured’ and ‘natural nitrates/nitrites’ makes people think these meats are healthier, but they aren’t,” says CR’s Vallaeys. CR and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are asking the USDA to update its labeling rules. And we are also gathering consumer signatures for a petition to the USDA. You can sign it here.

The USDA told CR that it is evaluating the effectiveness of vegetable-based curing agents and what would be required to change the current rules.

Deli Meats

Deli meats refer to cooked meats that have been sliced and prepared for a sandwich and other light dining options. These could easily be called sandwich meat, lunch meat, cold cuts, or sliced meats. Deli meats can be classified as whole cuts, sectioned or formed meats, or processed meats. All types will fall into one of these three categories.

  • Whole cut – whole cuts of meat that have been cooked and then sliced
  • Sectioned – restructured meats from chunks or pieces bonded to create a single piece
  • Processed – similar to sectioned, but may include meat by-products

Deli meats are one of the most common food items across the country. They are found in food chains, grocery stores, and local delis. Because they are so common, many people are surprised to discover there is a negative relationship with pregnancy. Deli meats and pregnancy concerns often have people asking what is wrong with lunch meat during pregnancy?
More than likely you have heard someone share the

Why Can’t Pregnant Women Eat Deli Meat?

More than likely you have heard someone share their advice about not eating deli meats while pregnant. You have probably heard others share personal stories about eating deli meats and everything turning out fine.
The good news is that the probability of experiencing a problem from deli meats is very unlikely. Approximately 2,500 individuals will become infected with Listeria annually. This means it is extremely rare. However, the problem for pregnant women is they are more susceptible to get it and their developing babies are more vulnerable to serious complications and even death.
The federal government has taken huge steps in helping to prevent the spread, or exposure, to Listeria. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking. Cold cuts are now sprayed with a food additive that helps prevent Listeria before packaging.
You don’t need to panic if you are pregnant and have been eating deli meats. The probabilities are in your favor that nothing has happened. When it comes to deli meats it is important you know that the likelihood of being exposed to Listeria is low. On the flip side, you need to know that if your developing baby is exposed to Listeria it can be devastating.

Wait Until After Your Pregnancy or Take Precautions

Some people love their lunch meat sandwiches. Others opt for them because of ease or for the low cost, while some want something more nutritional than a fast food burger. The safest course of action to protect your baby is to avoid deli meats until after pregnancy.
If you plan to eat deli meats anyway, we highly suggest cooking them until they are steaming. If the meat is heated to steaming, any present Listeria bacteria should no longer be alive. More than likely everything will be fine, but if at all possible, it is best to find another go-to food.

Want to Know More?

Get the Fetal Life App for Apple and Android endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association.

Happy Ending for Family Devastated by Listeria

When Joanna Valentine finally got pregnant after two years of attempts and more than 10 years together with her partner, Laurie Sorenson, she knew that she was going to take every recommended precaution during her pregnancy. Part of that meant buckling down on the adventurous side of her diet. Despite being a self-described foodie, Valentine chose to eliminate any relatively risky foods from the menu. She and Sorenson had gone through enough hassle just trying to make the pregnancy happen – they didn’t want to worry about complications or jeopardize welcoming their son, Felix, into the world. Months into her pregnancy, for example, Valentine went to the beach for a picnic with friends, where she almost ate some smoked salmon until she had a second thought about it. Before she took a bite, she pulled out her phone and ran a search on Google about the safety of smoked salmon. She instantly found a number of recent recalls and problems linked to a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes. Listeria monocytogenes had recently killed more than 30 people in the fall of 2011 from contaminating cantaloupe. It can be especially threatening to pregnant women, she read, as it can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and other serious health problems for newborns. Valentine quickly pulled up a list of foods most likely to contain Listeria: deli meats, hot dogs, meat spreads, smoked seafood, raw sprouts, raw milk and soft raw-milk cheese. Reading that it could take several weeks for symptoms of a Listeria infection to appear, she decided she would rather not indulge in any of those foods and spare herself weeks of paranoia. “A lot of people don’t know about Listeria, and I really didn’t know either,” Valentine said. “When I read about it, it just sounded so insidious.” Valentine’s precautions are exactly why she and Sorenson were shocked when, at 26 weeks pregnant, she ended up in the hospital giving premature birth after suffering from an apparent Listeria infection. The series of events that led Valentine to the hospital weren’t caused by the smoked salmon or any of the other high-risk foods she was avoiding. Instead, it was a hard artisan cheese made from pasteurized milk – something considered to be a relatively low-risk food. After the beach picnic, Valentine progressed through the pregnancy eating a pretty hum-drum diet. One day at the grocery store, she was feeling a little desperate for variety when she found herself in front of the cheese case, talking to a clerk about safe cheeses to eat during a pregnancy. She settled on the safest-looking option, which happened to be imported from Italy. She took it to a friend’s house for dinner that night and then ate it every day in her salad at lunch until it was gone. “When you’re pregnant, you’re hungry all the time,” she said, laughing. “I was overexcited about the cheese.” Ten days after buying the cheese, Valentine came down with a fever and a minor upset stomach. Being well into the pregnancy, she had come to expect feeling under the weather on occasion, and so she thought little of it and it dissipated. But another week after that, the symptoms came back, only worse, and were followed by lower back pain. Then came the minor contractions, which prompted a trip to the hospital. Hospital personnel thought she might have a kidney infection. They put her on a strong antibiotic and pumped her full of fluid to flush her kidney, which turned out not to be the problem after all. “That turned out to be the seventh circle of hell, because I didn’t actually have a kidney infection – I was going into labor,” Valentine said. At this point, Valentine still had no idea she was infected with Listeria. All she knew was that she was entering premature labor at 26.5 weeks. “A premature baby that has nothing else wrong with it would probably be fine at that point,” Valentine said, “but I had a very strong intuition that something was wrong.” When Felix finally arrived, he weighed just under four pounds – on track to be a healthy baby boy if not for the Listeria. But Valentine’s amniotic fluid was green, and Felix’s body was covered in lesions and he wasn’t breathing. Staff resuscitated Felix, but, as Valentine described it, “That just sent us down a rabbit hole.” Felix was found to have spinal meningitis and bleeding in his brain. He had been suffering from a fever since Valentine first became infected with Listeria. Even if he survived, he would have been blind, deaf, and physically and mentally disabled. “He was in really bad shape, and yet they were doing everything they could to save his body, even as his brain was deteriorating,” Valentine said. “You have no choice in that. You can’t say he’s suffering too much. You’re just totally helpless.” But, after two weeks of struggling to keep Felix alive, doctors pronounced him brain-dead. It wasn’t until immediately after giving birth that Valentine finally learned that she was infected with Listeria. At first, she told her doctors they were wrong – she knew about Listeria and had been especially cautious to avoid it. Still doubtful, Valentine again pulled out her phone and ran a Google search on Listeria. One of the very first things she saw was a recall alert for cheese – the cheese she had been eating weeks earlier. The same friend who first ate the cheese with her was there in the hospital room, and Valentine showed the information to her. “Oh, my God, that’s the cheese,” her friend said. “I had an anxiety attack. I was just in total shock,” Valentine said. “This was all caused by cheese? It was seriously the most disturbing thing I’ve had to come to terms with in my life – that something so mundane as cheese could have possibly been the instigator of all this misery.” Despite being a hard, pasteurized cheese, the brand Valentine purchased was still somehow contaminated with Listeria. In total, at least 20 people were sickened in the outbreak, which occurred in the second half of 2012. While at first she was hesitant to take legal action, Valentine eventually sued the cheese manufacturer after retaining legal representation from food safety attorney Bill Marler, whose law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News. Part of her settlement involved signing an agreement not to disparage the company. After Felix passed, family and friends honored his life with a ceremony and put his cremated remains in an adorned box. They “went gangbusters” decorating the box, which turned out to be a very cathartic experience. After the ceremony, Valentine focused on rebuilding her health, feeling an enormous amount of support from loved ones. “I’ve now come to know a lot of women who have lost babies, and, for women who don’t know what caused it, it’s worse,” Valentine said. “In a way, it was a relief to know what happened, even though at first I was beyond disturbed that it happened because of cheese.” Three months after giving birth to Felix, Valentine and Sorenson decided to restart the fertilization process. To their enormous surprise, Valentine was pregnant in the first month of attempts. “I was pregnant forever,” Valentine laughed, having her second pregnancy last 10 months on top of the six months she was pregnant with Felix. On Oct. 15, 2013, Valentine and Sorenson welcomed their son, Soren, now four months old. “He’s the biggest, healthiest, happiest baby,” Valentine said. “Our story has a super-happy ending.” Valentine said that the biggest lesson her family has taken away from their experience is that foodborne illness can strike anyone, regardless of their level of caution. Even more important than caution, she said, was advocating for stricter food safety standards. “The takeaway from this story is not that you’re safe if you’re overly paranoid and cautious,” she said. “I was careful as can be.” She added that despite their loss, the outpouring of support from loved ones and Marler – and even some strangers – helped her and Sorenson through the experience without severe struggle. “People came through for us so well that we felt even more of a love for humanity than we had before,” Valentine said. “And now I have a healthy baby who helps me move forward.”

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Listeria more commonly affects people with compromised immune systems, older people and also those who are pregnant.

Health officials warn that deli meat is known to sometimes have Listeria bacteria, and remind people to cook deli meats before ingesting and to always throw away opened packages of deli meat after five days in the refrigerator.

The CDC, along with other government health organizations, continues to monitor the current outbreak and will update the public as soon as more is learned.

ABC Health & Wellbeing

A recent food poisoning outbreak highlights the risk of consuming ready-to-eat foods, particularly for pregnant women.

Last month, a seemingly healthy chicken wrap was outed by Queensland health officials as the culprit behind an outbreak of listerosis – a very rare, but potentially deadly type of food poisoning.

The health officers noticed something was amiss in late July when the number of reported cases of listeriosis had nearly reached the year's average of 60 in less than six months.

Five cases, including two pregnant women who went into premature labour after falling ill, have been linked to a dodgy batch of wraps served on Virgin Blue flights between May and June.

Who would have suspected a chicken wrap could cause such a fuss?

In fact, cold chicken and pre-prepared salads are perfect breeding grounds for Listeria monocytogenes, a common bacteria that thrives in raw, undercooked and pre-packaged foods that have a long-shelf life.

Rare but risky

Listeriosis is very rare – it affects only about five in every million people including cases that go unreported.

Symptoms can include fever, headaches, cramps, aches and pains, nausea and diarrhoea and can take up to 70 days to appear.

Healthy people may have no symptoms, but it can have devastating consequences for pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. In these groups it is more likely to be severe and cause premature birth, miscarriage, septicaemia or meningitis in between 20 to 30 per cent of cases.

Listeria first made headlines in Australia nearly 30 years ago when an outbreak in a maternity hospital traced to chicken liver pate was implicated in six foetal/neonatal deaths. The tragedy spurred an extensive public health campaign to raise women's awareness of the risks.

Since that time, the number of pregnant women contracting listeriosis has dropped to about five cases a year, and most serious cases now occur in older people – usually in aged care or hospital settings.

Cold meats and salads overlooked

But while women cross pate and soft cheeses off the menu when they're pregnant, research and anecdotal evidence suggests that they still underestimate the risk of ready-to-eat foods such as cold meats and pre-packed salads.

In 2007 researchers from Wollongong University surveyed 586 women attending antenatal clinics. They found that while 81 per cent of women identified soft cheeses as a high risk food, only 68 per cent identified deli meats, and 50 per cent identified coleslaw.

"This can be of potential importance because people tend to consume cold deli meats and pre-prepared vegetable salads on a regular basis compared with other high-listeria-risk foods," they wrote in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Lydia Buchtmann, spokesperson for the national food regulator Food Standards Australia/New Zealand, says rather than just avoiding the problem foods, make them yourself. Eat only cold meats cooked at home and salads you've prepared yourself.

"You can't rely on someone else to prepare them so you can't buy them out at lunch, and you shouldn't really be eating it on an airline," she says.

Better safe than sorry

Despite education about high risk foods, 40 per cent of the women in the Wollongong study continued to eat cold meat products, and 18 per cent continued to eat pre-prepared salads.

Yet there's growing evidence meats are a significant source of listeriosis cases. Mathematical models predict ready-to-eat meats (including luncheon meats, sausages and pates) are responsible for up to 40 per cent of cases in Australia, says Professor Tom Ross from the University of Tasmania.

Ready-to-eat chicken meat, which was not included in his model, is also a high risk food, he says.

While food manufacturers take hygiene very seriously and must regularly test their products for contamination, it is impossible to eliminate the risk of listeria because it is everywhere in the environment, says Ross.

"It's a very common organism, there are many ways you can be exposed to it. The problems tend to arise if it gets on a food and it's able to grow to fairly high numbers."

Australian regulations require products to be recalled immediately if high levels of the bacteria are found, but the Virgin Blue outbreak shows some things still slip through the net.

Says Lydia Buchtmann: "You always have to assume [a high risk foods is] contaminated, you can't tell by looking at it. It might not happen but &hellip the consequences are so high you shouldn't take the risk at all."

Reducing your risk

  • Avoid cold meats and chicken, pate, pre-prepared salads, soft-serve ice-cream, soft cheeses and unpasteurised dairy products
  • Wash your hands before preparing food
  • Wash all raw fruit and vegetables before eating them
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately and use them within 24 hours
  • Do not use foods after their use-by or 'best before' dates.

So what do you do if you get a craving for soft cheese, chicken, ham or prawns? Pop them on a pizza, advises Buchtmann.

"All those foods listed are fine if you cook them."

For more healthy food alternatives and hygiene advice check out FSANZ's listeria fact sheet.

Cold Cuts: Heat ɾm Before You Eat ɾm

You might be asking that very question after hearing that federal food safety experts think we shouldn't be eating our cold cuts cold. Especially if you're over 50.

Luncheon meats like ham, turkey, salami and others can contain a dangerous bacteria called listeria. Even when refrigerated, the listeria in contaminated deli meats can multiply and grow.

Older Americans and pregnant women are at particular risk of getting a serious infection called listeriosis if they eat their cold cuts without heating them first, warns the Centers for Disease Control.

Each year, about 1,600 Americans get seriously ill from listeriosis and 260 die from it.

The CDC recommends that people over 50, and especially people over 65, should heat cold cuts to 165 degrees - "steaming hot," as the CDC puts it.

At least one expert, however, thinks an older adult's risk of getting food poisoning from a cold deli sandwich is pretty low.

Barbara Resnick, incoming president of the American Geriatrics Society and a professor of nursing at the University of Maryland, told USA Today that she's never seen an older patient with listeriosis.

"I have patients that are 103, and they're probably eating lunch meat every day. But they're survivors - lunch meat's not going to get them," she told the newspaper.

Unopened, factory-sealed packages of deli meats should be stored in the refrigerator for no more than two weeks. Open packages or meat sliced at the deli counter should be kept for no more than five days, the CDC advises.

And look on the bright side: This is just one more reason to enjoy a piping hot pastrami on rye.


Everyone can play it safe when buying, preparing, and eating specific foods. Find out how at external icon , the federal gateway for food safety information.

Listeria is a harmful germ that can hide in many foods. Outbreaks of Listeria infections in the 1990s were primarily linked to deli meats and hot dogs. Now, Listeria outbreaks are often linked to dairy products and produce. Investigators have traced recent outbreaks to soft cheeses, celery, sprouts, cantaloupe, and ice cream.

Read on to learn which foods are more likely to contain Listeria and how you can take steps to protect your health, which is especially important for pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and people with compromised immunity. Most people with listeriosis are in one of these three groups.

Soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk (also called raw milk) are estimated to be 50 to 160 times more likely to cause Listeria infection than when they are made with pasteurized milk.

Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, products made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated if they are produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions.

Recommendations for everyone:

  • Make sure the label says, &ldquoMade with pasteurized milk.&rdquo
  • Be aware that Hispanic-style cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, have caused Listeria infections, most likely because they were contaminated during cheese-making.

Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity:

  • Avoid eating soft cheese, such as queso fresco, queso blanco, panela (queso panela), brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or feta, unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.
  • Fotonovela: While Pregnant, Be Careful with Queso Fresco English pdf icon [PDF &ndash 3 pages]Español pdf icon [PDF &ndash 3 pages]
  • Infographic: Check the Cheese, Avoid ListeriaEnglish pdf icon [PDF &ndash 1 page]Español pdf icon [PDF &ndash 1 page]
  • Podcast: Listeriosis Outbreaks Associated with Soft Cheeses Podcast audio icon Transcript pdf icon [PDF &ndash 3 pages]

Sprouts need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli.

Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity:

  • Do not eat raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce your risk for getting sick. Thorough cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
  • When you&rsquore eating out, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you buy a ready-made sandwich, salad, or Asian food, check to make sure it doesn&rsquot contain raw sprouts.

NOTE: Rinsing sprouts will not remove bacteria. Home-grown sprouts also can make you sick if you eat them raw or lightly cooked.

Recommendations for everyone:

  • Eat cut melon right away or refrigerate it.
  • Keep cut melon refrigerated at 41° F or colder and for no more than 7 days.
  • Throw away cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

Recommendations for everyone:

  • Don&rsquot let juice from hot dog and lunch meat packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces. Wash hands after handling hot dogs, lunch meats, and deli meats.
  • Safely store products in the refrigerator:
    • Hot dogs: Store opened packages no longer than 1 week in the refrigerator and unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
    • Lunch and deli meat: Store factory-sealed, unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

    Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity:

    • Avoid eating hot dogs, lunch meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (such as bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
    • Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Meat spreads and pâté that do not need refrigeration before opening, such as products in cans, jars, or sealed pouches, are a safer choice. Refrigerate these foods after opening.

    A food is called shelf-stable if it can be safely stored at room temperature or &ldquoon the shelf.&rdquo

    Eating canned and shelf-stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products is not considered to increase your chance of getting sick from Listeria.

    It&rsquos important to know that not all canned foods are shelf-stable. Some canned foods are labeled &ldquoKeep Refrigerated.&rdquo Examples of such items include cold smoked fish, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel. Cold smoked fish items are often labeled as &ldquonova-style,&rdquo &ldquolox,&rdquo &ldquokippered,&rdquo &ldquosmoked,&rdquo or &ldquojerky&rdquo and typically found at seafood or deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens.

    Recommendations for people at higher risk, including pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity:

    • Do not eat cold smoked fish unless it is canned or shelf-stable or it is in a cooked dish, such as a casserole.

    Raw milk is milk from any animal that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Raw milk (also called unpasteurized milk) can carry harmful bacteria, including Listeria, and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. Although it is possible to get foodborne illness from many kinds of foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all.

    Raw milk made into other products, such as soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, can also cause dangerous infections. When consuming these products, make sure they are made from pasteurized milk.

    Recommendations for everyone, especially people at higher risk, including infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immunity:

    3. Listeria Can Be Deadly, But For Many It’s Not Harmful

    If you are more or less in good health, young, and not pregnant, you may come into contact with listeria and not even know it.

    “About 30 percent of infected patients don't show any symptoms,” says May. “The next biggest group [of those infected] have flu-like illnesses.”

    If you fall among the latter, you’ll probably just be miserable for a few days as you would with any stomach bug, but your body should be able to clear it up on its own and you might not require medical attention. But really, it’s your body, your call, and if you’re violently ill, you should go to the doctor just to be on the safe side. Also, if you do have listeriosis, you’ll want the hospital to know so they can report it and be on the lookout for other cases.


    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 07, 2017:

    Unfortunately, we can&apost remove all of the bacteria from raw lettuce, but we can reduce their level. Our body has to deal with the rest. Health experts say that after washing our hands, utensils, and surfaces, simply giving the lettuce a good wash under cool, running water is the best thing to do. There is some evidence that a vinegar wash can reduce bacteria levels, however.

    Brandie on November 07, 2017:

    Exactly how would you need to wash your veggies, like romain lettuce for example, to kill/remove the listeria bacteria?

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 15, 2015:

    Hi, Peg. Thanks for the interesting comment. Listeria is certainly worrying, whatever the cause!

    Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on February 15, 2015:

    This illness seems to come and go on the news as cases are reported. With the long incubation period, it would be difficult to trace back the origin of how a person contracted it. I know that it scared me off from eating cantaloupes last summer. I&aposm wondering if we&aposre seeing more of this because we import veggies from countries whose fertilization and sanitation practices may be in question.

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 18, 2014:

    Thanks, Audrey! I appreciate your comment.

    Audrey Howitt from California on August 18, 2014:

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 18, 2014:

    Thanks for the visit, Rebecca. I wash most of my greens, but not the prepackaged salad greens that have already been washed. So far I&aposve had no problems!

    Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on August 18, 2014:

    Good stuff to know. I don&apost think I have ever heard of These illnesses. I will remember NOT to rewash my greens, I suppose. Thanks!

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 18, 2014:

    Hi, ologsinquito. Yes, it is very important for pregnant women to be aware of the potential dangers of Listeria. Thanks for the comment.

    ologsinquito from USA on August 18, 2014:

    I was very careful when pregnant to avoid certain high-risk foods, such as soft cheese. This is a good warning, because we usually don&apost hear about lysteria.

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 10, 2012:

    Thank you very much, Prasetio! I appreciate your visit and the votes.

    prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 10, 2012:

    Very interesting hub and again. I learn many things from you, Alicia. Thanks for share with us. Thumbs up for you and pressing the buttons here.

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2012:

    Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Ethel.

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2012:

    Hi, Peggy. Thanks for the comment, the votes and the share! Yes, I find Listeria and its behavior fascinating too - although I wouldn&apost be happy if I had listeriosis! Listeria is one of the most dangerous bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses because of its "sneaky" and complex behavior.

    Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on July 08, 2012:

    Very useful. I had heard of Listeria but in a vague sort of way. You have filled in all the gaps thoroughly. Thanks Peggy

    Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2012:

    Excellent article. I was fascinated by that video showing how listeria can go from cell to cell and reproduce avoiding the immune system. Scary! Your food safety tips are well advised. I would never have thought to cook deli meats! Since I am not in a high risk group I doubt that I will start doing that. But good to know, for those who have to take extra precautions. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share. Thanks!

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2012:

    Thank you for both the comment and the vote, teaches. I appreciate them both. I try to remember the food safety rules too. I&aposd hate it if my family got a foodborne illness.

    Dianna Mendez on July 07, 2012:

    Excellent advice and one that will may save some lives. I must check on the refrigerator this week, I do clean it regularly, but now you have me thinking. Voted up!

    Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2012:

    Hi, Peg. I guess I&aposve been lucky - the last episode of foodborne illness that I experienced (as far as I&aposm aware of) was in my childhood. That was a horrible event that affected my whole family! Since then I haven&apost had any problems. Thanks for the comment.


  1. Olaf

    the very interesting thought

  2. Tojataxe

    Great article. Brevity is clearly your sister

  3. Mojag

    Lovely answer

  4. Adin

    I love people who notice all sorts of details, little things and who can find something attractive and invisible to the majority in everyday things. Super!

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