Don’t let your salad bug you

LISTERIA is a harmful bacterium which can be found in many ready-to-eat foods that have already been cooked.

It can cause an illness called listeriosis. While the infection is considered rare, it has the potential to be serious, particularly if you’re pregnant or have a weak immune system.

Listeria can contaminate a wide range of foods, but it is of most concern in chilled, ready-to-eat foods that do not require further cooking or reheating. The Food Standards Agency says there are several foods to be wary of.

These include: cooked sliced meats, cured meats, smoked fish, cooked shellfish, blue veined and mould-ripened soft cheese, pate, pre-prepared sandwiches and salads.

To reduce the risk of listeria, when preparing food at home, the food hygiene body says it’s important to keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate, to avoid cross-contamination.

You should also wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, keep chilled ready-to-eat foods cold,  make sure your fridge is working properly and is set to 5C or below, and always use foods by their use-by date.

Follow the storage instructions on the label, and use opened foods within two days, unless instructions on the packaging say otherwise.

Ready-to-eat food must be eaten within four hours of being taken out of the fridge. Also, make sure you cook or reheat foods until they are piping hot right through, and ensure that you follow manufacturer’s instructions in the preparation of all foods.

So what are the symptoms of listeriosis to watch out for, and when should you seek to get medical help?

There are five signs to watch out for, according to the NHS. These include a high temperature of 38C or above, aches and pains, chills, feeling sick or vomiting, and diarrhoea.

If you’re pregnant and think you have listeriosis, you should call your midwife straight away. You may need a blood test to check for the infection. You’ll be given antibiotics if you have listeriosis because it could cause serious problems, like a miscarriage, if not treated.

You should also contact your doctor immediately if you think you have listeriosis, and you’re having treatment that weakens your immune system (like chemotherapy). Likewise, contact your GP if you think your baby might have listeriosis.

If the infection is not treated, severe listeriosis can cause serious infections like meningitis in babies, and people with a weak immune system.

If you experience a severe headache and stiff neck, discomfort when looking at bright lights, fits, sudden confusion, or a rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, you should go to A&E.

These could be symptoms of meningitis caused by listeriosis, and this needs to be treated in hospital, straight away.


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Posted by on Jul 5 2019. Filed under Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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