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Why Summer Can Bring More Cases of Listeria

In Florida, barbecue season is pretty much all year, but summer is still peak season. If you are barbecuing meat, the chance that you or your family may develop a foodborne illness should be a concern. However, it can be transmitted through other foods. One particularly dangerous illness transmitted through food is listeriosis. It is caused by a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria is most often found in the following foods:

  • Hot dogs
  • Deli meats
  • Soft-ripened cheeses
  • Store-brought salads such as those that include seafood, chicken, ham and tuna
  • Raw vegetables

Hot dogs can be a particular danger, especially for pregnant women. If you choose to eat hot dogs, it's essential to heat them properly and keep them hot until they are served. If you refrigerate leftover hot dogs, don't keep them refrigerated for more than a few days and reheat them properly. Further, always wash your hands after you remove hot dogs from their packaging and don't get the juice on any preparation surfaces, utensils or other foods.

While listeriosis can be fatal, some people are more likely to be sickened by it than others. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable. They are 10 times more likely to contract listeriosis than other people. Even if the pregnant woman doesn't become ill, it can cause problems for her baby, including death, either before or after birth.

Sometimes, no matter how cautious consumers are, listeria can still occur. For example, Blue Bell has been accused of having Listeria monocytogenes in its facilities, which allegedly resulted in people who ate its ice cream contracting listeria.

People who contract a foodborne illness should not assume that it was because they stored or cooked the product improperly. The contamination may have occurred anywhere during the process that took it from manufacturing to sale. It's wise to see if there have been any other cases of illnesses related to the same product and to determine what your legal options are.

Source: Foodsafety.gov, Listeria: The Unwanted BBQ Guest,€ Crystal McDade-Ngutter, June 8, 2015

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