The foods most associated with listeriosis are refrigerated ready-to-eat with long shelf life. In the outbreaks of listeriosis that have occurred worldwide, the causes have been ready-to-eat meat products such as cooked sausages or pâtés, smoked fish, dairy products such as soft cheeses, raw milk and ice creams made with it, ready-made salads, as well as fresh vegetables and fruit.
A presence of the bacteria in food above 100 cfu / g can be dangerous, something that is rare. However, as the bacteria are highly survivable and multiply very rapidly, even a low proportion of samples that exceed this level can be a health concern.
How is food contaminated?
As we have mentioned, the foods that are most associated with listeriosis are the refrigerated ready-to-eat foods. Well, the contamination of these usually occurs before final packaging or in the subsequent handling process during its commercialization, that is, when lunch. It can also be produced at home. If the manufacturing process of these foods does not include a treatment that eliminates Listeria, such as cooking or baking, whether it is contaminated or not will depend on the measures taken throughout the entire food chain, with special emphasis on maintenance of the cold chain.
As a result of the food alert issued by the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) due to the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in several batches of meat products produced by EMBOTITS D’OIX SL: Botifarra d’ou, Bull blanc, Botifarra negra, Botifarra de fetge and Botifarra all julivert and although, as of today April 30, 2021, no case of listeriosis associated with this alert has been confirmed in our country, we will tell you what are the typical symptoms of a Listeria infection. Take note!
Symptoms of listeriosis
The symptoms of listeriosis are very similar to those of a flu: muscle aches, fever, nausea and diarrhea. However, there are people to whom this infection goes unnoticed. Others may spread to the nervous system causing headache, confusion, stiff neck, tremors and seizures, and loss of balance.
The people who are most at risk of contracting an infection have the worst prognosis in case of listeriosis. We are referring to children, older than 65 years, pregnant women, people with AIDS, cirrhosis, diabetes or those who have had their spleen removed or are undergoing chemotherapy treatment. In pregnant women it can cause abortions or pre-term deliveries.
If the infection reaches the brain, the consequences can be serious. Cranial nerve palsy, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the meninges), meningoencephalitis (a combination of meningitis and encephalitis), and brain abscess can occur.
Prevention of listeriosis at home
It is important respect what the labels of what we buy indicate: the expiration date, the form of conservation and the consumption (if it indicates that it should not be consumed raw, do not do it). In this way we will prevent the bacteria from multiplying until it becomes dangerous if it were present in the food in question.
When it comes to cooking, it is recommended cook food thoroughly, this is to reach 70 degrees Celsius for two minutes. Food that needs to be in the freezer should be kept at temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius.
It goes without saying that both the kitchen utensils, pots, pans, tables and others as well as the refrigerator must be clean. Also our hands before and during the cooking process. Must separate raw food from cooked food and keep them at a suitable temperature.
Risk groups should take extra precautions such as avoiding non-pasteurized dairy products, ready-to-eat meat products such as cooked ham or refrigerated pâté, as well as smoked fish.