Extension Connection: Food safety lowers contamination risk

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease.

Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. However, listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

Tips for People At Risk

Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Immediately clean spills.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.

Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, bologna or other deli meats unless they are reheated until steaming hot.

Do not eat refrigerated p&8230;t/, meat spreads from a meat counter or smoked seafood found in the refrigerated section of the store. Foods that don&8217;t need refrigeration, like canned tuna and canned salmon, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.

Do not drink raw (un-pasteurized) milk and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.

Do not eat salads made in the store such as ham salad, chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad or seafood salad.

Do not eat soft cheeses such as Feta, quesco blanco, quesco fresco, Brie, Camembert cheeses, blue-veined cheeses and Panela unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.

Use pre-cooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Listeria can grow in the refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40&161; F or lower, and the freezer 0&161; F or lower. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator.

Consumers with food safety questions can &8220;Ask Karen,&8221; the FSIS virtual representative, available 24-hours-a-day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday-Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24-hours-a-day