Washing fruits and vegetables right before eating or cooking them is the first step to protecting yourself from this bacterium.
Unlike most bacteria, listeria can grow and spread in the refrigerator. It is therefore important to handle it properly in order to prevent it from spreading and infecting a family member with listeriosis – a foodborne disease. This is especially important with at-risk populations such as pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with compromised immune systems.
To reduce this risk, the MedlinePlus website recommends:
- Consuming pre-cooked and ready-made foods as soon as possible
- Staying away from unpasteurized milk and dairy products
- Heating ready-made foods and leftovers to the point where steam forms
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests the following:
- Keep your refrigerator at 40 °F (4 °C) or lower, and the freezer at 0 °F (-18 °C)
- Clean it regularly and if there is a spill, clean it up immediately
- Wash its interior walls and shelves with hot water and dishwashing soap, then rinse and dry them with a clean cloth.