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It seems that every few weeks there’s another food recall due to concerns over listeria contamination. Hot dogs, ice cream, cantaloupes and pre-cut vegetables — most recently.


Listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes, can lead to hospitalization and even death in those most vulnerable, like pregnant women and older adults — but you can prevent an infection.

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Here are five things the CDC says you can do to protect yourself and your family:

1. Wash and handle food properly

  • Rinse raw produce under running tap water, and scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a produce brush.
  • Be sure to dry produce with a clean cloth or a paper towel after rinsing.
  • Always separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

2. Keep a clean kitchen

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Unlike most germs, listeria can grow and spread in your fridge. Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or lower and the freezer at 0°F or lower to reduce the risk.
  • Regularly clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap.
  • Immediately clean up all spills in your refrigerator.

3. Thoroughly cook meat and poultry

Use a meat thermometer to make sure that meat, poultry and seafood reaches a safe minimum internal temperature. Here are the guidelines from FoodSafety.gov:

food safety

4. Store foods properly

  • Consume ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can, and never store them in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date.
  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers. Cover with lids, plastic wrap or foil.

5. Eat safer foods

  • Don’t drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
  • People in higher risk groups should heat up hot dogs, cold cuts and deli meats before eating them.

A note about those most at risk…

According to the CDC, an estimated 1,600 people get sick from listeria germs annually, and 260 people die from the illness. At least 90% of those who get listeria infections are in a higher risk group.

RELATED: Remember that Blue Bell ice cream recall? Records show they knew about listeria contamination

To read more about ways to reduce your risk of listeria contamination, visit the CDC’s website.

5 things you can do to keep listeria out of your kitchen Inform / Buzz60

Mike Timmermann, Clark.com

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