Listeria infections can be serious, and even deadly, particularly for certain groups of people, including young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. The infection can cause fever, muscle aches and diarrhea, and in pregnant women, it may cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
The CDC offered the following general recommendations to reduce the risk of Listeria infection:
- Rinse raw produce, including fruits and vegetables, before eating, cutting or cooking.
- Use a produce brush to scrub firm vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- When preparing food, separate uncooked meats from vegetables and cooked foods.
- When you handle uncooked foods, be sure to wash your hands afterward, as well as the knives and cutting boards you used for the foods.
- Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
- Heat ready-to-eat foods and leftovers until they are steaming hot.
- People at higher risk of infection, such as pregnant women, should not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts or other deli meats unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). They should also avoid eating soft cheeses, unless the label says it’s made with pasteurized milk.