This week marks Australian Food Safety Week, a chance for the Food Safety Information Council and other industry/government bodies to help spread the message about food safety and protect public health.
If you’ve ever experienced the unpleasant effects of food poisoning, then you’ll appreciate this year’s theme: “Food Poisoning – Take It Seriously!”
Common food poisoning symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, headaches and diarrhea. But for vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women, the effects can be much more extreme – if not fatal.
In support of Food Safety Week, Safe Food will be publishing an Infographic every day this week, to help educate consumers on some of the most common pathogens that can cause food poisoning, and how to reduce their risk. Today, we’re kicking things off with Listeria.
1 in 3 Australians At Risk
According to a national Omnipoll research study released by the Food Safety Information Council, 1 in 3 Australians are either at risk of a Listeria infection themselves, or live in a household with someone at risk.
Listeria Monocytogenes is type of bacterium that is naturally occurring in the environment and thrives in low temperatures, including refrigerated and frozen conditions. It has been known to cause a serious but rare infection known as Listeriosis, which generally causes influenza-like symptoms, fever, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrheoa.
Listeria can be found in many foods, especially ready-to-eat foods that have not been stored or handled correctly after being produced or cooked, as well as on raw fruits and vegetables.
Unlike most micro-organisms, listeria can multiply in some foods, such as soft cheeses, smoked salmon and sandwich meats, even when stored under refrigeration for a long time.
In 2018, there have already been 4 recalls in Australia related to Listeria Monocytogenes contamination, involving 17 individual food products. The foods affected included:
- 6 x soft cheeses
- 10 x frozen vegetables
- 1 x ready-to-eat meat
Check out the following Infographic to learn more about Listeria Monocytogenes:
Reduce Your Risk
As a precaution, it is recommended that consumers do the following to reduce their risk of contracting Listeriosis:
- wash their hands before preparing or eating food
- practice good food hygiene and clean utensils when preparing food
- thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before consuming
- use food within its ‘use by date’
- reheat food until it is piping hot (Listeria is killed off at boiling point)
- keep high risks foods below 4°C (or avoid consuming these altogether)
- refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 24 hours, or freeze.