How Can You Get Listeria Poisoning?


Quick Answer

Eating food contaminated by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes causes listeria poisoning, according to WebMD. Vegetables, dairy products, meats, processed foods and unpasteurized dairy products are potential sources of this type of food poisoning. A pregnant woman can also pass listeria through the placenta to her unborn child.

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Full Answer

Pregnant women, people with a weakened immune system and older adults are at a higher risk for listeria poisoning than others, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It recommends people in this high-risk group avoid foods that are likely sources of listeria poisoning, such as deli meats; hot dogs; soft cheeses; and refrigerated, smoked seafood.

To reduce the risk of listeria poisoning, cooks should keep the kitchen and food-preparation tools clean. They should wash their hands with hot, soapy water before beginning to prepare food. They should scrub all raw vegetables under running water, using a vegetable or scrub brush to remove the bacteria, and use a food thermometer to ensure all foods reach a safe temperature, according to Mayo Clinic.

When there are doubts about the safety of a food, the recommended approach is to discard it, according to WebMD. Simply reheating contaminated food does not kill the bacteria. Foods can have bacterial contamination and make those who eat it sick, even if it looks and smells fine.

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