fruit fears about listeria
A dangerous bacteria is in the limelight again as a California packing company recalls a variety of fruits sent to Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Walmart. The fear is a number of peaches, plums and nectarines may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections are known as listeriosis. They can have serious and life threatening consequences, most commonly for pregnant women, newborns and kids and adults with weakened immune systems. “Pregnant women who become infected have a higher risk of premature delivery, miscarriage or stillbirth,” says Bethany Linegang, RN, MSN, infection preventionist at Dayton Children's. “Infections in other groups can be as mild as flu-like symptoms but as serious as blood and bone infections.”
If parents suspect their child may have been exposed, they should call the doctor immediately if he or she develops the following symptoms:
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Poor feeding
- A high-pitched cry
- Lethargy (excessive sleepiness)
The earlier listeriosis is detected and treated, the better. Most cases can be handled with antibiotics.
“Washing fruits and vegetables before eating can help safeguard against infection,” says Becky Gonter-Dray, RD, CSP, LD, pediatric dietitian at Dayton Children’s. “However fruit is not the only place you could encounter Listeria, so be sure to take other food safety precautions, as well.”
- Carefully wash hands and utensils after handling raw foods.
- Cook food (especially meat and eggs) thoroughly to the proper internal temperature.
- Reheat precooked, prepackaged foods — such as deli meats or hot dogs — to steaming hot temperatures, especially if you are pregnant.
- Only drink and eat products made with pasteurized milk and refrigerated to appropriate temperatures
- If you're in a high-risk group, avoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined and Mexican-style cheeses unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
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