Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Listeria is food borne bacteria that is found in soil, water, plants and animals. This bacterium is general spread by consumption of the contaminated food. It is most often found to be present in raw milk products, uncooked meats and harvested fruits and vegetables.

What Kills Listeria On Fruit?

How does one disinfect raw fruits and vegetables of listeria? The problem with raw foods and vegetables is that you cannot use heat to kill the bacteria. You need to keep the food in the raw condition till it reaches the hands of the consumer. However, there are a few things you can do to process the food correctly to prevent contamination as well as re-contamination with listeria bacterium.

Firstly, the food needs to be sprayed with a solution of white vinegar. Secondly, it needs to be sprayed with a separate solution of hydrogen peroxide. Next, this food needs to be rinsed with water and then needs to be stored in the freezer. The mixture of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can be used to disinfect and wipe down the areas where this food will be stored. This step should reduce the chances of re-contamination of listeria.

These steps are simple enough to follow at home on a regular basis for disinfection of raw foods and vegetables from listeria. Processing plants can also incorporate these special washes and cold storage temperatures into their design to ensure the food produce is safe and uncontaminated.

How Do You Know If You Have The Listeria Infection?

In most cases, the symptoms of the listeria infection resemble those of a typical food poisoning. The patients typically complain of fever with chills. Muscle pains and stiffness typically accompany this. The patients also complain of nausea and vomiting or severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. In some cases, the infection spreads to the nervous system and so it may result in symptoms of severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation and confusion.

However, the bacteria have an incubation period from 3 days to 70 days. Therefore, it may be a few weeks to a month before you start displaying any of the physical symptoms of the infection.

What Do You Do If You Suspect You Have Listeria Infection?

If you suspect you have the signs and symptoms of a Listeria infection, you should consult your healthcare provider who can order some tests to confirm this diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will generally order a bacterial culture test using your blood, spinal fluid or placental tissue to detect the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. If you have this infection, you will be put on a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.

What Is The Most Common Method To Disinfect The Food Contaminated With Listeria?

The most proven method to get rid of listeria bacterium is to cook the food at high temperatures. You need to cook the high risk foods like milk and meats at a temperature greater than 74°C for at least 2 minutes for the bacteria to be killed. Microwaves can also be used for this purpose as long as you continuously heat the food till its piping hot instead of heating it at short intervals.

Why Listeria Is Harder To Kill Compared To Other Bacteria?

Most foodborne bacteria are killed when they are washed with acidic solutions like lime juice and white vinegar and cooked at high temperatures. These foodborne bacteria also do not survive when they are stored at low temperatures in the refrigerator when kept in salty settings. However, listeria is different from the other foodborne bacteria in many ways. Firstly, though it may be killed at high temperature cooking, it is easily re- infect the produce between the cooking and the packaging. Listeria can survive in salty environments and so this is not a deterrent to its growth. This bacterium does not get killed at low temperatures. In fact, Listeria can thrive and multiply at temperatures up to 2°C.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: November 26, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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