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An apple a day keeps the doctor away?


By Lee Yean Ling (CARiNG Pharmacist) | Malaysia | Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:03pm

An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

The recent Listeria outbreak that occurred as a result of contaminated apples has raised a lot of questions on the safety of food.


Am I to avoid apples now?

The incidence of listeria outbreak happened on other foods as well such as soy products, cheese and dairy products.

Listeria can be found in soil, water and some animal including poultry and cattle.   Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated when in contact with soil or water that contains the bacteria.  Contamination of meat and dairy products can also occur at slaughter or during milking.  Even in the kitchen, the bacterium can be transferred from contaminated instruments (knife, cutting board, pots and pans) to other food.


Is Listeriosis deadly?

Listeria infection or Listeriosis is one of the common food poisoning caused by bacteria, other bacteria that are common includes Salmonella, Campylobacter, E.Coli and Clostridium perfringens. The illness takes days to weeks and normally recover with course of antibiotic. It can pose major risks for certain populations. Namely, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

 

How can I prevent it

1.       Know your food

High risk foods includes

·         Uncooked meats and vegetables

  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses as well as other foods made from unpasteurized milk
  • Cooked or processed foods, including certain soft cheeses, processed (or ready-to-eat) meats, and smoked seafood

 

2.       Cook your food

Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization.  So, thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources.  Heat processed or ready-to-eat meat or seafood until steaming hot just before serving.  Do not drink raw milk or eat un-aged cheeses or other products made from raw milk.

 

3.       Wash your food

Thoroughly clean your fruits and vegetables under running tap water before eating, or if needed, with an antibacterial fruits and vegetables wash.  Peel them if you can.


4.       Prevent cross-contamination

Separate vegetables, fruits and cooked food from uncooked meats, poultry or seafood.  Wash hands, kitchen utensils thoroughly after handling uncooked foods. 

 

5.       Avoid storing your food for long periods of time

Unlike most bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes can continue to grow at refrigeration temperatures. This means that the longer we keep a contaminated food, the higher the concentration of the bacterium, particularly for foods that are known to favor growth of Listeria.

Dispose unwanted cooked products properly and quickly, to prevent bacteria growth.

 

References

1.       Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Listeria Outbreaks (http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/index.html)

2.       Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Listeria (http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html)

3.       Medscape. Listeria Monocytogenes. (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/220684-overview)

4.       When Food Bites Back: Protecting Those at Risk for Listeria Food Poisoning (http://www.cdc.gov/features/vitalsigns/listeria/)

5.       http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/index.html

 

 






 

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