15 Things You Need to Know About Listeria

Date Posted: September 16, 2019
15 Things You Need to Know About Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes (also known as Listeria) causes some of the most widespread foodborne illnesses in the U.S. It also continues to be the reason for many food recalls.

In fact, in July 2019 alone, five food items were recalled because of the possible contamination of Listeria.

And with foodborne illnesses and food recalls on the rise, Listeria is something you shouldn’t ignore.  

Learn more about this kind of foodborne bacteria, the disease it causes, why Listeria grows, and how to prevent the growth of Listeria in today’s post.

1) Listeria is a kind of pathogenic foodborne bacteria.

This means that Listeria causes food-related illnesses.

2) Like many kinds of bacteria, Listeria can be found naturally.

You can usually find Listeria in water and soil.

3) Listeria can contaminate food whenever it comes in contact with animal manure-based fertilizer or soil containing the bacteria.

It’s also worth noting that animals carry these bacteria as well.

4) Listeria can last for years on equipment in a food processing facility.

This is commonly where Listeria contamination begins. In fact, the cold environments of food processing facilities are ideal for Listeria growth.

5) Listeria growth = multiplying germs and contamination of other foods.

When Listeria grows, it doesn’t just affect the food it has already contaminated; it can also contaminate other food around it. This can lead to a larger outbreak.

6) Per the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), a few specific kinds of food often cause Listeria infections.

These include melons, raw sprouts, hot dogs, pâtés, soft cheeses like queso fresco, cold cuts, lunch meat, raw (unpasteurized) milk, and smoked fish.  

7) Several major brands and food companies had food recalls over the past three years because of Listeria contamination.

These include Albertsons, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Kroger, Lipari Foods, Meijer, Panera, Pinnacle Foods, Public, Saputo Inc., Stop & Shop, and Whole Foods, among many others.

8) Listeria causes a disease called listeriosis.

Listeriosis is quite a serious infection that affects an estimated 1,600 people in the U.S. every year. 

9) Pregnant women, newborn babies, people with weak immune systems, and adults aged 65 or older are especially vulnerable to listeriosis.

They are most likely to experience Listeria food poisoning.

10) Listeriosis causes several different kinds of symptoms.

These can range from mild (flu-like symptoms, fevers, muscle aches, stiff necks, and fatigue) to severe (miscarriages, bloodstream infections, and brain infections).

11) In worse cases, listeriosis can be fatal.

About 260 people die every year in the U.S. from listeriosis according to the CDC.

12) Listeria is a particularly problematic type of bacteria because it grows in normal refrigeration temperatures. 

This is because Listeria is naturally found outside, where temperatures can be cooler.

13) As a result, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends you keep refrigeration units under 40° F.

Temperatures over 40° F (but under 165° F), as we mentioned above, are unfortunately ideal for Listeria growth and contamination. Consequently, the FDA specifically recommends this measure to prevent foodborne illnesses.

14) As one prevention method, you can measure the temperatures of your food service equipment with remote temperature sensor systems to catch any sudden spikes in temperature.

Equipment failures and irregularities, power outages, and simple human errors like employees leaving coolers open often cause unexpected increases in temperature. 

When you use remote temperature sensor systems like HiQ eSystems, you’ll be notified immediately whenever there’s an issue. You’ll receive alerts if the temperature in your equipment rises over recommended temperatures. That way, you can fix the problem before your equipment becomes the perfect breeding ground for Listeria.

15) You can also stop the growth of Listeria by cleaning up food spills and covering your foods in clean bags or containers.

Both methods help to prevent the spread of Listeria from one food to the other.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen, Listeria can cause a harmful and even life-threatening illness.

And because it grows in conditions that inhibit the growth of other bacteria, it’s important to be ever-vigilant for the potential presence of Listeriaespecially if your customers are populations vulnerable to the most negative effects of listeriosis.

Fortunately, Hitachi High Technologies America is here to help. Contact us today to get in touch about how we can help you stop the growth of Listeria in your facilities and protect the health and safety of your customers.