When you have a contracted an infection, it is undeniable that you will visit a doctor for treatment, right? Well, in cases of food-borne diseases such as listeria infection, your physician may request that you make changes to your lifestyle. This is usually in reference to what types of foods you eat as they may be the carrier of the listeria bacteria causing your illness. The bacteria is found in a variety of food products ranging from animal products, raw foods, and processed foods as well. It is commonly found in soil, water, and animal feces.
There are no specific lifestyle changes for listeria infection except for to avoid certain foods. It is important that you are careful when handling your foods. Furthermore, prevention is better than cure. If you have not been observing some of the below mentioned precautions, it is only wise that you start. This will help in avoiding listeria bacteria as well as other food-borne diseases. Nevertheless, you will be improving your health and lifestyle in general. The bacterium can grow in refrigeration temperatures, hence should be careful with refrigerated foods.
In what Foods can you find listeria bacteria? People usually get a listeria infection only after eating foods or drinking fluids contaminated with the listeria bacteria. Listeria bacteria is common with animal products such as unpasteurized milk and products made with unpasteurized milk as well as raw meat. Due to the presence of the bacteria in soil or manure from affected animals, vegetables and fruits can carry the bacteria. On consuming the vegetables raw, then you increase the chances of getting the bacterial infection. Finally, processed foods, which become contaminated after processing, can also cause listeriosis (listeria infection), especially soft cheeses, deli meats, cold cuts, and hot dogs.
What Next After a Listeria Infection?
There are a variety of precautions you can embrace to prevent a listeria infection. This does not necessarily have to be after getting sick with the bacteria, but can also be adopted before to be safe from bacterial infection. Ways in which you can reduce the risk of getting a listeria infection include;
- Processed ready-to-eat foods should be consumed as soon as possible. If the foods have stayed for long, then they should not be eaten as they may be contaminated. Pay attention at the best-before (expiry) date.
- Cooking raw food from animals properly. This can either be beef, pork, mutton, or poultry meat. Make sure that they cook at a safe temperature, enough to kill the bacteria if present.
- For fruits and vegetables, which you are planning to eat raw, make sure you wash them properly with plenty of water. If you got a vegetable brush, brush through the vegetables and fruits under running water.
- If you are accustomed to unpasteurized milk, then you should avoid it at all cost. You can replace the unpasteurized milk with pasteurized milk, which lacks the bacteria. This is because the pasteurization process kills the bacteria.
- Wash utensils i.e. cutting boards and knives that have been used to handle uncooked foods thoroughly with soap and water. In case of using the utensils for raw meat, you can also rinse with warm water.
- You should also wash your hands properly before and after preparing foods with soap and warm water.
For people who have a greater risk of getting a listeria infection, they should take twice the precaution as normal people. Addition precautions that should be observed are mentioned below.
- Refrain from consumption of soft cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses unless they have been processed using pasteurized milk. If the type of milk used in processing is unknown, then it’s best if you steer clear of the product.
- Do not eat luncheon meats, hot dogs and deli meat that have not been reheated until they are steaming hot.
- Try as much as possible to avoid fluids from hotdog packages from getting to other foods, utensils, and surfaces you use for food preparation. In case they do, make sure you clean them thoroughly and wash your hands properly as well.
- Avoid refrigerated meat spreads or pates. However, canned or shelf-stable pates can be consumed without fear of being contaminated with the listeria bacteria.
- Also, avoid refrigerated smoked seafood unless they are being used to make fish dishes or casserole. For other purposes, use canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood instead of the refrigerated ones.
- Separate uncooked meat from other foods. That is, keep raw meat away from raw vegetables, ready-to-eat foods as well as cooked foods. In short, use different compartments in your fridge to store different food products.
- Set your refrigerator at 4-degrees Celsius or lower, to slow down the growth of listeria bacteria.