What You Can Do To Reduce Your Risk of Listeriosis

Food Safety Concerns

For more information about food safety, contact the nationwide toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline, operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 1-800-535-4555

This information has been adapted from the following:
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Food and Drug Administration

Recommendations For All Individuals

Although most of the population is at very low risk for listeriosis, the risk can be reduced if you:
  1. Thoroughly cook all food of animal origin.
  2. Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  3. Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  4. Avoid raw / unpasteurized milk or foods made from raw milk.
  5. Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  6. Read and follow label instructions to “keep refrigerated” and “use by” a certain date.

Recommendations to High Risk Individuals

Persons at increased risk for listeriosis such as pregnant women, the elderly, and those with immunosuppressive conditions can decrease the risk if they:
  1. Avoid soft cheese such as Mexican style, feta, Brie, Camembert and blue cheese. Mexican-style cheeses are soft, white, ethnic (Hispanic-Latin American) cheeses such as Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco. There is no need to avoid hard cheese, processed slices, cottage cheese or yogurt.
  2. Thoroughly heat leftover foods or ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs before eating.
  3. Although the risk of listeriosis associated with foods from delicatessen counters is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may choose to avoid these foods or to thoroughly reheat cold cuts before eating.