When we prepare for serve safe certification classes, we monitor food product recalls and FDA warnings concerning food-borne illness outbreaks. We currently see a high-number of recent warnings involving Listeria. With Listeria making an impact on food safety and being prevalent in the news, we feel that it is important to understand what this bacterium is, how it spreads, and how to prevent it from sickening customers who consume your food products.
Serve Safe Certification Guide to Listeria
Listeria is a unique case when it comes to food-borne illness suspects because unlike many other bacteria it grows and multiplies at much colder temperatures than other contaminates. This means that any product contaminated with Listeria has the potential to be dangerous even if stored in the refrigerator. Listeria bacteria can even remain active at temperatures that approach and dip below freezing.
The low breeding temperature of Listeria makes it vital that you handle your food properly. Make sure that you rinse raw produce thoroughly, cook all prepared foods to the proper temperatures, and that you always clean and sanitize prep surfaces after preparing raw foods. Some of the most common foods that are responsible for Listeria outbreaks include:
• Raw dairy and soft cheeses
• Raw sprouts
• Smoked or cold-cured seafood
While these are the most common sources of Listeria, we have noticed an increase in recalls and outbreaks that are traced back to frozen vegetables and fruits. We urge you to monitor FDA recalls. This can easily be done by viewing the FDA widget on the right hand side of our blog page.
While we cringe at discussing the effect of Listeria poisoning, it is important to understand the symptoms in order to identify the cause of a food-borne illness. Listeria poisoning incubates for anywhere between a few days to a few months, so symptoms can arise long after tainted food has been consumed. Symptoms can include:
• Soreness in the neck
• Reduced strength
A quick read of Listeria poisoning symptoms reads very closely to a list of flu symptoms with a few exceptions. Listeria attacks the nervous system as well as the digestive system. When you hear about these symptoms, there is a chance that Listeria is the culprit.
If you do have an unfortunate incident involving Listeria at your establishment, it is important to cooperate with your local health department. The potential exists that the bacteria originated from one of your suppliers, so giving the health department all of the information you have can help prevent further cases.
If you are interested in learning more about Listeria and other bacteria, we offer serve safe certification classes online or led by a qualified instructor.