Listeria – the Rare but Deadly Killer on Your Kitchen Counter
In recent years, there has been a spate of food recalls. These recalls are usually the result of the contamination of raw fruits or vegetables with the e-coli bacteria. However, recently a relatively rare contaminant has raised its ugly head, Listeria.
There are seven species, or varieties, of Listeria. The technical name for the disease this bacteria causes is Listeriosis. Humans contract this disease by eating food contaminated with the Listeria bacteria. As is often the case, the people most at risk are pregnant women, newborn children, the elderly and adults with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is a serious problem for humans because it has a relatively high death rate. Twenty percent of humans that contract Listeriosis die shortly after eating the contaminated food.
Good sanitation in food preparation areas is vital to help prevent Listeriosis. The scary thing is that even perfect sanitation practices in your kitchen and food storage areas do not guarantee safety from the bacteria. All seven forms of the Listeria bacteria exist frequently in nature.
Listeria bacterial exist in dirt, which often leads to vegetable contamination. Listeria bacteria recently contaminated cantaloupe in Colorado, causing several deaths. Some forms of the Listeria bacteria exist in streams and other water contaminated with sewage. Children playing barefoot in contaminated water are a high risk of contracting the disease Listeriosis.
Animals are the most common carriers of the bacteria. Raw fruits and vegetables should always suspected and require complete cleaning. Once the bacteria enter the home it is difficult to remove. Any tool or surface that contacts uncooked food needs sanitation. Listeria is twenty times more deadly that salmonella. One in five persons contracting Listeriosis will die. Salmonella is a bacterium that also kills people every year in almost every country. Its mortality rate is one in twenty persons.
The most likely place in the home to find Listeria bacteria is food preparation areas, especially food contact surfaces. Sanitizers that contain alcohol are effective at killing the bacteria. Food handlers should wash their hands frequently during the day. After drying their hands, they should be using an alcohol hand cleanser. The temperature in the fridge should always be below 39 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius.
Protect yourself and your family from the deadly Listeria bacteria and follow excellent food handling procedures at all times. The Listeria bacteria never rests and neither should you in your efforts to protect your family from this deadly bacteria and disease.