Keep bacteria like listeria out of your kitchen. Here are 5 tips.
If you eat food contaminated with listeria, you could get so sick that you have to be hospitalized, the Food and Drug Administration says. And for certain vulnerable people, the illness could be fatal.
Unlike most bacteria, listeria germs can grow and spread in the refrigerator. So if you unknowingly refrigerate listeria-contaminated food, the germs not only multiply at the cool temperature, they could contaminate your refrigerator and spread to other foods.
Those most at risk for illness include pregnant women, older adults and people with compromised immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions. In pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.
Below are some tips from the FDA to protect yourself and your family:
1. WASH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Consumers are advised to wash all fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you plan to peel the produce first.
2. REFRIGERATOR TEMPERATURES
Chilling food properly is an important way of reducing risk of listeria infection. Although listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, it grows more slowly at refrigerator temperatures of 40 degrees or less. Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower, and the freezer at 0 degrees or lower.
3. CLEAN CONTAINERS
Wrap or cover foods with a sheet of plastic wrap or foil, or put foods in plastic bags or clean covered containers before you place them in the refrigerator. Make sure foods do not leak juices onto other foods.
4. CLEAN IT UP
Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away - especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry. Consider using paper towels to avoid transferring germs from a cloth towel. Sanitize your refrigerator monthly.
5. WASH YOUR HANDS
Clean your hands and kitchen surfaces often as listeria can spread from one surface to another. Thoroughly wash food preparation surfaces with warm, soapy water, or a kitchen sanitizer.