To prevent a listeria infection, follow simple food safety guidelines:
- Keep things clean. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after handling or preparing food. After cooking, use hot, soapy water to wash the utensils, cutting board and other food preparation surfaces.
- Scrub raw vegetables. Clean raw vegetables with a scrub brush or vegetable brush under plenty of running water.
- Cook your food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure your meat, poultry and egg dishes are cooked to a safe temperature.
Precautions for people particularly at risk
If you're at risk of a listeria infection — you're pregnant or you have a weak immune system — you may want to be particularly cautious about listeria. Take additional precautions with these types of foods:
- Soft cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses. Don't eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco and queso fresco, unless it's clear from the packaging that the product was made using pasteurized milk.
- Hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats. Avoid hot dogs, luncheon meats and deli meats, unless they're reheated until steaming hot. Keep fluid from hot dog packages away from other foods, utensils and food preparation surfaces. Wash your hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats or deli meats.
- Meat spreads. Don't eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pates and meat spreads are acceptable.
- Refrigerated smoked seafood. Don't eat refrigerated smoked seafood. Such products may be labeled as nova style, lox, kippered or jerky. One exception is if you're using these products in a casserole or other cooked dish. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood is acceptable.