Listeria warning: Protecting yourself from the foodborne disease
Sandra Hermiston and Ross McLaughlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, June 9, 2017 6:00AM PDT
From frozen burritos to hummus and ice cream cones, there has been a flurry of recalls in the last year over fears of Listeria.
The Center for Disease Control ranks Listeria as the third-leading cause of death from foodborne illness and some people are far more vulnerable to it than others, which is why it’s so important to be aware of food safety.
“Most recently, the concerns have been about certain cheeses, but actually Listeria has been found in ice cream, cookie dough, frozen vegetables and even frozen waffles,” explained Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports health editor.
Not everyone exposed gets sick from it, but when you do it can be serious. Most people with invasive listeriosis require hospitalization, and one-in-five people who become infected die.
Four groups of people are most at risk: the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, newborn babies and pregnant women. In fact, pregnant women are roughly 10 times more likely than the general population to be infected.
“There’s really no way to detect Listeria ahead of time, but the best way to steer clear of it is to avoid certain types of foods, like soft cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products. Especially if you’re in a high risk group,” warned Calderone.
If you are concerned about anything you ate, be on the lookout for symptoms such as diarrhea, muscle aches and fever.
“The symptoms can be really tricky, because they can either come on right way or they can take up to a month to develop. So sometimes it’s really hard to pinpoint the source of the infection,” said Calderone.
But you can keep an eye out for recalls on web sites like Health Canada.
If you discover you've bought food affected by a listeria recall, seal it in a plastic bag and toss it.
The CDC also suggests taking things a step further and wipe down the spot in the fridge where it was stored with soap and hot water.
Other steps you can take to help cut your risks of infection include:
- Rinsing raw fruits and vegetables
- Keeping your fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 0-4 degrees Celsius
- Eating deli sliced meats within three to five days of being purchased
- Eating hot dogs within a week once opened