Lysteria and Safe Food Handling Practices

I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize the importance of safe food handling practices.

Far too often we rush through meal preparation without considering what types of bacteria we may be transferring to our bodies from our food.

Listeriosis monocytogenes found in meat products from a processing plant in Toronto has recently been linked to several deaths and illnesses in Canada.

Listeriosis monocytogenes is a bacterium found in food which mainly affects the elderly, newborns, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. It is mainly found in water and soil.

There are systems and regulations in place in food production facilities to ensure that bacterium like Lysteriosis don’t make it into the food supply chain. Those systems are what keep your food safe to eat. They are not foolproof.

Maple Leaf Foods, Canada, recalled all products made at the Toronto plant since January 2008. ( http://www.mapleleaf.ca/ ). They also shut down the plant.

I think this incident underlines why we need to be our body’s last line of defence when it comes to food-borne illnesses. There are things we can do on an individual level to prevent illness.

Here are some preventative measures as listed on the center for disease control and prevention website: ( http://www.cdc.gov/ )

“General recommendations:

  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.
  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:

  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
  • Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
  • Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten. “

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