Learn About Listeriosis

-- Clean the refrigerator weekly with detergent and hot water. Toss out all foods that have passed their expiration dates.

-- Be certain that all perishable food, prepared food or leftovers are refrigerated or frozen within two hours of eating or preparation.

-- Discard food that has been left out at room temperature for two hours or more. (This is the two-hour rule.) If the temperature is 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) or above, discard the food after one hour.

-- Use ready-to-eat, perishable foods such as dairy products, meat, poultry, seafood and produce as soon as possible after preparation or purchase.

-- Reheat hot dogs and lunch meats until they are steaming hot. Do not eat them out of the package.

-- Eat only pasteurized cheese. "Fresh" cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela should be checked to make sure they have been produced with pasteurized milk. If they have, the label will say so.

-- Don't eat "fresh" meat spreads or pates that you buy in the dairy case. Canned spreads, pates or products that do not need refrigeration until opening are okay to eat. Remember to refrigerate uneaten portions promptly.

-- Do not eat smoked refrigerated fish or seafood unless it is in a cooked dish such as a casserole, where you know it has been well cooked. Do not consume smoked fish found in a deli, such as whitefish, salmon, lox, kippered fish, cod, tuna or mackerel. Canned smoked seafood is acceptable, as it has undergone vacuum processing.

-- Do not consume any foods containing or prepared with "raw" (unpasteurized) milk, including homemade cheeses.

Government agencies and the food industry have taken steps to reduce contamination of food by the listeria bacterium. The Food and Drug Administration and the U. S. Department of Agriculture monitor food regularly. When a processed food is found to be contaminated, food monitoring and plant inspection are intensified, and if necessary, the implicated food is recalled.

The FDA has outlined these four simple steps to keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and beyond.

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