Recently, large supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s recalled fruit products that possibly contains Listeria, a food-borne bacteria that may severely affect people’s health and even life. This has caused panic among consumers as the fruit products have been distributed widely in the United States from Rhode Island to California. However, it is not the first time we have seen cases of listeria contamination. There are several Listeria outbreak incidents worldwide back to the late 20th century when at least 50 cases were reported due to food with listeria contamination in the United States causing 6 dead, and 38 cases in China in the last 13 years (including 8 pregnant women and 5 newborns).
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if Listeria contaminated products are consumed by people, they are likely to be infected with listeriosis and have symptoms of food poisoning. Symptoms of listeriosis may vary among different groups of people, but they share a few in common: fever, diarrhea, weakness, and vomiting. People with impaired immune systems bear a higher risk of getting infected, including pregnant women, seniors, and children or infants.
For pregnant women, a minor fever may cause a miscarriage if improperly processed raw meat or unpasteurized milk products are consumed. According to foodsafety.gov, people with certain diseases (HIV/AIDS and drug or alcohol related problems) are prone to listeria invasion as well since their immune system is already compromised. For more information check out the infographic that categorizes the targets and symptoms.
You may think that healthy people can rarely get infected by listeria, but do not risk your life or the lives of your family and friends by preparing food improperly. Cook all raw food thoroughly. Use microwave if needed. Avoiding the cross contamination of raw foods is important (especially in the refrigerator or while shopping) since listeria can survive and will spread under the circumstance of normal temperature or even below zero. Always keep in mind to check “best used by” date on every food can or package and consume them as soon as possible after they are opened.
This article contributed by HHP Staff Writer, Xiaoye Jin.