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Five Ways to Prevent Listeria

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preventing listeria Photo: Getty Images

There are a few simple ways to protect yourself and your family from getting the food poisoning bug, Listeria:

1. Keep clean. Make sure your kitchen, fridge and any food utensils are thoroughly cleaned after use.

2. Wash your hands before and after food preparation and after going to the bathroom.

3. Make sure meat is cooked all the way through. Undercooked meat is a major cause of food poisoning. If cooking eggs, hard boil them. Runny yolk is more likely to cause infection.

4. If you are pregnant or you have a weakened immune system, don’t eat soft cheeses and ‘junk food’ meats like hotdogs and cold deli meats. Avoid smoked seafood unless it is canned. Don’t give these foods to a baby or small child.

5. There is lots of evidence that probiotics (friendly bacteria) can help prevent infections. Now, research scientists are suggesting that prebiotics may help too. Prebiotics are carbohydrates found in food. A research team from Finland wrote,
"Evidence has accumulated suggesting that specific bacteria in the intestine exert a multiplicity of inhibitory effects against pathogenic infections. The microbiota creates a physical and chemical barrier against pathogens e.g. by lowering the pH in the intestine, producing bacteriocins, modulating the immune system and by competing for nutrients and adhesions sites in the intestine. Prebiotics, typically carbohydrates, escape digestion in the small intestine and undergo bacterial fermentation in the colon, and thereby stimulate the growth of the gut microbiota.

"At present, four different prebiotics have been tested. Xylooligosaccharides (XOS) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) have showed to increase resistance of guinea pigs to intestinal L. monocytogenes infections."

So if you eat plenty of carbohydrates (such as pasta, beans, rice and potatoes) and also have yogurt or a daily dose of probiotic drink, this may be enough to prevent you from getting listeria.

Source: Prebiotics for Prevention of Listeria Infection - http://www.asm.org/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000004430/Program%20Abstract%20Book.pdf#xml=http://search.asm.org/texis/search/pdfhi.txt?query=Probiotic+bacteria+could+help+treat+Crohn%27s+disease&pr=ASM+Site&prox=page&rorder=500&rprox=500&rdfreq=500&rwfreq=500&rlead=500&rdepth=0&sufs=0&order=dd&mode=&opts=&cq=&id=4d980c967


Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Your reference states to be cautious when eating uncooked hot dogs, not to avoid all hot dogs cooked or uncooked as you state in your article "don’t eat ... hotdogs "

Quote from your reference: "Be cautious when eating hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats unless they are properly reheated to steaming( or 160 degrees F.):"

It should be noted that almost any processed food can be contaminated with listeria, even vegetables. For example recently celery caused several deaths:


April 16, 2011 - 1:39pm

Hotdogs have been recalled due to listeria before and do pose a risk if not throughly cooked, particularly to pregnant women:


American Pregnancy also say to be wary of hotdogs:


So I think it's correct to have it in this article.


April 11, 2011 - 3:42am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for the informative article!

One small error:
"don’t eat ... hotdogs and cold deli meats. Avoid smoked seafood unless it is canned. Don’t give these foods to a baby or small child."

You need to correct this. Cooking kills listeria. While you should avoid serving uncooked hotdogs, properly cooked hotdogs should not pose a listeria risk.


Also the term "small child" is ambiguous. According to the CDC only infants are in the high risk group.

Thanks again!

April 4, 2011 - 6:54am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

i will never eat again unless my food is clean and nothing on it LOL HAHA

October 24, 2011 - 1:26pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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