Food Writing, From my Perspective…

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

The Up and Coming, Listeria

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As an expecting mother I worry about all the diseases, infections, and illnesses that could cause harm to my child and I. Listeria is now causing scare to not only pregnant women, but also everyone across the United States.

According to the CDC, Listeria or Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It poses a serious health problem in the United States. This disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. In a recent article USDA, FDA Issue Major Report on Reducing Deadly Listeria in Deli Products, they talk about Listeria being found mostly in deli products.

The article says that the disease caused by Listeria, is rare, but the fatality rate is high. The CDC estimates that about 1,500 people fall ill with listeriosis each year, and of those, nearly all will be hospitalized and 260 patients will die. Around 16% of listeriosis patients will lose their lives, compared to salmonellosis, the fatality rate is only about half of one percent.

With all the things my doctor told me not to eat and drink while pregnant, deli meat was up on the top of the list. I was not allowed to make a sandwich for lunch without thoroughly cooking it before. Who has time for cooking deli meat before you put it into a sandwich? On top of that, I was already restricted to eating things that weren’t fish or a medium cooked steak. Now, I have to look out for deli meat too?

If you are unaware of Listeria, these are the symptoms:

-Pregnant Women: fever, fatigue and aches. Infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

-People other than pregnant women: fever and muscle aches, and headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Ways that one can reduce the risk for listeriosis are stated on the CDC website. The FDA recommends rinsing raw produce under running tap water before eating, cooking, or cutting. Even if the produce is peeled, it should still be washed first. They also recommend separating uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. They also say to keep you kitchen and environment clean and safe and to cook all your meat and poultry thoroughly.

With Listeria becoming and up and coming problem to the United States, we can only hope that researchers can come up with way to make this disease more preventable and curable.

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