Mothers' Day advice on listeria and pregnancy 
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Mothers' Day advice on listeria and pregnancy 

Listeria is a comparatively rare form of foodborne illness, but it can be a very serious disease in pregnant women who will need to avoid certain foods. Symptoms in pregnant women may appear mild, but listeriosis can cause miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth.

Listeria is widely found in the environment so most raw foods are likely to be contaminated. Listeria is easily killed by heat, although cooked foods can easily become re-contaminated through poor food handling after cooking.

This is one of the few pathogens that can grow in the refrigerator, so ready to eat food should never be stored in the fridge too long. Although Listeria can grow in the fridge, it will do so only very slowly so make sure your refrigerator is keeping your food at or less than 5°C. Never eat packaged food after its use by date.

When pregnant, the best way to avoid Listeria is to eat freshly cooked or freshly prepared food. Try to avoid foods which have a higher risk of Listeria contamination such as:
  • cold meats from delicatessen counters and sandwich bars, and packaged, sliced ready-to-eat meats
  • cold cooked ready- to-eat chicken (whole, portions, or diced)
  • pre-prepared or pre-packaged fruit or vegetable salads, including those from buffets and salad bars
  • chilled seafood such as raw oysters, sashimi and sushi, smoked ready-to-eat seafood and cooked ready-to-eat prawns
  • soft, semi-soft and surface-ripened cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, blue and feta
  • refrigerated paté or meat spreads
  • soft serve ice cream
  • unpasteurised dairy products.
You can further reduce your risk of listeriosis by following these food safety tips:
  • avoid foods that are past their ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date
  • refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 24 hours, or freeze
  • cook foods thoroughly
  • reheat foods until it is steaming hot
  • check this advice from Food Standards Australia New Zealand on making safer food choices.
For more information about listeriosis see Healthdirect

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