The Department of Health in Massachusetts reported 4 human cases of listeria infection over the past 6 months. Two deaths and one miscarriage were linked to this disease by way of "DNA fingerprinting" of retail milk samples from a local dairy farm.
Listeria is a common soil organism that can cause disease or death when consumed. Pregnant women, children and those with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, are at greater risk for this sometimes deadly disease. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea.
The milk in question was pasteurized. Focus is now on whether or not there was a defect in the process or if this particular strain of Listeria was more resistant to high temperatures that ordinarily would have killed the deadly bacteria.
USDA Recommendations For People At Risk For Listeriosis
Wash hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling raw meat and poultry for at least 20 seconds. 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 reheated until steaming hot.
Do not eat refrigerated pâté, meat spreads from a meat counter or smoked seafood found in the refrigerated section of the store. Foods that don't need refrigeration, like canned tuna and canned salmon, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.
Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) 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, queso blanco, queso fresco, Brie, Camembert cheeses, blue-veined cheeses and Panela unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk.
Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Listeria can grow in the refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40 degres or lower and the freezer 0 degrees or lower. Use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator.
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