Listeria, or listeriosis, is a common foodborne illness that leads to thousands of illnesses every year.
In some countries, the fatality rate from the food poisoning is as high as five hundred individuals every year.
With the recent recalls on several different types of cheese in Australia because of listeria contamination, consumers are more aware of the problem. It is vitally important for restaurants, supermarkets, and other food establishments to understand how to avoid listeria contaminations.
While you can't completely ensure that you never offer a product that could be contaminated with listeria, you can take steps to avoid it as much as possible. Here are some tips on protecting your consumers from this potentially dangerous illness.
Know the Dangerous Pathogens
There are certain foods that are most known for being in danger of listeria contamination. Anyone who owns a food based establishment needs to be aware of these common pathogens. The main three are:
- Deli Meats (Especially When Cubed or Chopped)
- Dairy Products (Especially Cheese)
- Raw Produce (Especially Cantaloupes and Other Melons)
Generally, the listeria bacteria is killed through cooking and pasteurization processes. However, if the foods are exposed to contamination after they have been through these processes, then they could become contaminated themselves.
Generally, the most danger of listeria in the three foods above include meats that are raw, dairy products that are not pasteurized, foods sold ready to eat, like soft cheeses and deli meats, and refrigerated seafood like tuna that isn’t contained in a cooked dish.
At your establishment, you need very specific guidelines on how foods are handled. These should be managed by your food safety supervisor and all employees should be properly trained on the following subjects:
- All products should be disposed of after their use-by date.
- Raw meats should always be cooked to the required minimal temperature before serving.
- Any spills from luncheon meat or hot dog juices should be cleaned up and sanitized properly.
- Any materials or tools in contact with raw foods should be cleaned properly.
- All foods should be stored properly in coolers.
- Leftovers should be placed in shallow containers to ensure they cool down as quickly as possible.
- All foods should be stored in airtight containers.
- Raw vegetables should always be rinsed before use.
You can take steps to prevent listeria in your establishment. This foodborne illness is common and it can be quite dangerous. You need to be responsible with food safety in your own business to protect consumers.