Prevent ListeriaInfection This Summer2013-Jun-09
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SUNDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- With the arrival of summer,
many folks think they can keep their picnic food safe from bacteria
by storing it in the refrigerator.
But they would be wrong about one bacteria.
Unlike most of its brethren,
Listeriabacteria can grow in cool temperatures.
Refrigerating food contaminated with this bacteria could allow the
germs to multiply and spread, according to the U.S. Food and Drug
The bacteria can cause a serious illness known as listeriosis,
which is particularly dangerous for children, older people,
pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems or chronic
medical conditions, such as diabetes.
Foods in which
Listeriahas been found include deli meats, hot dogs, smoked
seafood and store-prepared salads. The FDA advises those at greater
risk for developing listeriosis to reheat these ready-to-eat foods
until they are steaming hot. They should also avoid unpasteurized
milk and soft cheeses.
Listeriosis has also been linked to contaminated cantaloupes.
The FDA recommended washing all fruits and vegetables under running
water immediately before eating, cutting or cooking them. Firm
produce, in particular, should be scrubbed with a produce
The FDA added that other ways to prevent
- Set your refrigerator temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or
lower to inhibit or slow the growth of
Listeria. Use a refrigerator and freezer thermometer to
ensure temperatures are sufficiently cold.
- Wrap or cover food before placing it in the refrigerator. Be
sure no containers or covers are leaking juices on other
- Do not allow cooked or ready-to-eat foods to sit in the
refrigerator. Eat these foods right away so
Listeriadoesn't have the opportunity to grow. "If you have
leftovers in your refrigerator, it's best to throw them out after
three days, just to be sure," Donald Zink, senior science advisor
at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a
news release. "It's better to be safe than sorry."
- Clean up refrigerator spills immediately. The FDA notes leaks
or spills from hot dog packages, raw meat or poultry are
particularly worrisome. The agency advised cleaning these spills
with paper towels to avoid spreading germs to a cloth towel.
- Routinely disinfect the refrigerator. The FDA recommended
cleaning the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator with warm
water and soap. Surface cleaners can also be used monthly.
- Sanitize kitchen surfaces where food is prepared with soap and
water and surface cleaner. The FDA noted homemade sanitizer can be
made by combining one teaspoon of unscented bleach with one quart
of water. Unused bleach solution should be discarded since it
becomes less effective over time.
- Wash cutting boards after every use. Nonporous acrylic,
plastic, or glass boards can be sanitized in the dishwasher.
- Wash dish cloths, towels and cloth grocery bags in the hot
cycle of the washing machine.
- Before and after handling food, wash your hands with warm water
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
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The information in this article, including reference materials, are provided to you solely for educational or research purposes. Information in reference materials, are not and should not be considered professional health care advice upon which you should rely. Health care information changes rapidly and consequently, information in this article may be out of date. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.