Recently Blue Bell ice cream recalled their products because several cases of food poisoning, three that resulted in death, were linked to listeria bacteria in their products. This food poisoning scare has caused many people to become concerned, and rightfully so.

There are many myths about food poisoning, and listeria, so it pays to know the facts about the problem so you can feel safe when you eat. In addition, it also pays to have some first aid certification so that you can take care of your family if there is a case of food poisoning in your family.

What is listeria?

Listeria is a bacteria. When a human consumes this bacteria they can develop an infection known as listeriosis. Most healthy people do not have to worry about these bacteria, but people with weakened immune systems are very susceptible to it.

Where is Listeria most commonly found?

This bacteria can be found in many different foods. Recently, we have seen recalls of hummus and ice cream because listeria was found to be present in some of them, but you can also find this bacteria in raw meats, vegetables, fruit, processed meats like wieners and deli meat, unpasteurized dairy milk, and soft cheeses.

The common symptoms of listeriosis

The most common symptoms of listeriosis are fever and muscle aches accompanied by severe diarrhea.

The length of time between ingesting listeria tainted foods and the symptoms

Most bacteria that causes food poisoning will create symptoms almost immediately after the person ingests the food. This makes food poisoning fairly easy to identify, and makes the source of the bacteria fairly easy to recognize.

With listeria the person who ingests it may not have any symptoms for a week, or three weeks, and there have been instances of people not showing symptoms of the bacteria for two months after they ingest the tainted food stuff.

Cold temperatures do not kill listeria

The center for Disease control recommends that refrigerated foods be kept at a temperature of forty degrees or less to kill bacteria. This is an effective measure to prevent most food borne bacteria from spreading, but listeria can thrive in the cold temperatures.

If you hear about a food product that is possibly contaminated by listeria do not assume it is safe because you have had it refrigerated. To be on the safe side you need to throw out any possibly contaminated foods.

A Hardy Bacteria

Listeria can live in the soil and in the water. There have been instances where the bacteria lived in food processing plants for years.

Ways to Prevent Listeria Infection

Following simple food safety rules can reduce the chances that you and your family will come in contact with listeria.

These practices include cooking all raw meats completely, rinse all fruits and vegetables before you eat them, or add them to dishes, do not drink unpasteurized milk or eat products made from unpasteurized milk. If there is a food, recall in your area throw out those foods. If you are uncertain if the food, you have was one of the recalled items be safe and throw it away. Cook all deli meats and hot dogs to a temperature of 165 degrees before consuming.