5 things you can do to keep listeria out of your kitchen

It seems that every few weeks there’s another food recall due to concerns over listeria contamination. Hot dogs, ice cream, cantaloupes and pre-cut vegetables — most recently. 

Listeria: What you need to know to protect yourself 

Listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes, can lead to hospitalization and even death in those most vulnerable, like pregnant women and older adults — but you can prevent an infection. 
Here are five things the CDC says you can do to protect yourself and your family: 

1. Wash and handle food properly 

  • Rinse raw produce under running tap water, and scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a produce brush. 
  • Be sure to dry produce with a clean cloth or a paper towel after rinsing.
  • Always separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

2. Keep a clean kitchen

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Unlike most germs, listeria can grow and spread in your fridge. Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or lower and the freezer at 0°F or lower to reduce the risk. 
  • Regularly clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap.
  • Immediately clean up all spills in your refrigerator. 

3. Thoroughly cook meat and poultry

Use a meat thermometer to make sure that meat, poultry and seafood reaches a safe minimum internal temperature. Here are the guidelines from FoodSafety.gov:
5 things you can do to keep listeria out of your kitchen

4. Store foods properly

  • Consume ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can, and never store them in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date. 
  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers. Cover with lids, plastic wrap or foil. 

5. Eat safer foods

  • Don’t drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
  • People in higher risk groups should heat up hot dogs, cold cuts and deli meats before eating them.

A note about those most at risk… 

According to the CDC, an estimated 1,600 people get sick from listeria germs annually, and 260 people die from the illness. At least 90% of those who get listeria infections are in a higher risk group. 

To read more about ways to reduce your risk of listeria contamination, visit the CDC’s website.

Read more: 4 food safety mistakes you’re probably making at home

5 things you can do to keep listeria out of your kitchen

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