More info and facts on listeriosis

2018-03-07 06:01

PROFESSOR Lucia Anelich, a leading food microbiologist and food-safety specialist in South Africa, has set up several websites — www.listeriosisfacts.co.za and www.anelichconsulting.co.za — to address public concerns about the recent listeriosis outbreak and to provide helpful information about food safety in the light of the outbreak.

Q: What is listeriosis?

Listeriosis refers to the invasive form of illness caused by the bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes.

This form of the illness is the more severe of two types of illnesses caused by this organism.

The other milder form presents with typical gastroenteritis symptoms, i.e. fever and diarrhoea.

This form is usually not serious, and most people recover quickly. However, the invasive form is far more serious, causing 20% to 25% mortality (deaths).

Q: What products are affected?

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria are found widely in nature. Listeriosis can be contracted from eating contaminated food.

The bacteria may be present in raw food or may contaminate food after it has been cooked or processed.

It grows at cold temperatures and can therefore grow in home refrigerators.

Listeriosis is killed by cooking, so cooked products are safe.

While polony and other chilled processed meats are being recalled by Enterprise and RCL Foods, it is important to note that fresh and frozen chicken has not been linked to the outbreak and is not subject to recall.

Q: What should consumers do?

All fresh and processed food stored at home, especially in refrigerators, should be washed thoroughly if eaten raw, or cooked thoroughly before consumption.

Reheat foods to steaming hot, above 70° Celsius.

If you plan to eat previously cooked and refrigerated leftovers, only keep them in the refrigerator for a day and reheat them thoroughly to steaming hot.

This will kill the listeria bacteria.

When reheating food, especially in a microwave, make sure the food is steaming hot throughout because microwaving can leave cold pockets in food.

If you have purchased polony or processed meats and you are unsure of the current recall, you should return them to the retailer for a refund. Do not dispose of these foods in home dustbins and do not feed to pets.

For more information, go to the websites.

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