Monday, July 5, 2010

Listeria Is On The Move

Before the 1980's most problems associated with disease caused by Listeria were related to cattle or sheep. This changed with food related outbreaks in Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, California and Texas. As a result of its widespread distribution in the environment, its ability to survive long periods of time under adverse conditions, and its ability to grow at refrigeration temperatures, Listeria, a form of meningitis, is now recognized as an important food-borne pathogen. There have been cases where health inspectors inadvertently carried the pathogen from one meat packing plant to another on their shoes. Listeria bacteria can also be transmitted through soil and water. A person can also ingest listeria by eating certain foods, such as deli meats and cold cuts, soft-ripened cheese, milk, undercooked chicken, uncooked hot dogs, shellfish, and coleslaw made from contaminated cabbage. Many cases of infection, however, have no identifiable source.
Immunocompromised humans such as pregnant women or the elderly are highly susceptible to virulent Listeria. It has become a leading cause of infection in kidney transplant patients. The bacillus can also cross the placenta of pregnant women and cause abortion, still birth, neonatal death, and birth defects. In humans, ingestion of the bacteria may be marked by a flu-like illness or symptoms may be so mild that they go unnoticed. Symptoms include fever and chills, headache, upset stomach and vomiting. A carrier state can develop. Death is rare in healthy adults; however, the mortality rate may approximate 30 percent in those with weak immune systems, new born or very young.
As mentioned earlier Listeria monocytogenes is a special problem since it can survive adverse conditions. It can be in a variety of raw foods as well as in processed foods and foods made from unpasteurized milk. It can grow in a pH range of 5.0-9.5 in good growth medium. The organism has survived the pH 5 environment of cottage cheese and ripening cheddar. It is salt tolerant surviving concentrations as high as 30.5 percent for 100 days at 39.2 degrees F, but only 5 days if held at 98.6 degrees F.
The key point is that refrigeration temperatures do not stop growth of Listeria. It is capable of doubling in numbers every 1.5 days at 39.5 degrees F. Since high heat, greater than 170 degrees F, will inactivate the Listeria organisms, post-process contamination from environmental sources then becomes a critical control point for many foods. To reduce your risk:
  • Use precooked and ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can
  • Avoid raw milk and raw milk products
  • Heat ready-to-eat foods and leftovers until they are steaming hot
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid rare meat and seafood
~ CDC, 2009

1 comment:

  1. 向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.