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(03) 9848 4262


Fertility IVF Specialist

Listeria Mmonocytogenes

Is a harmful bacterium that can cause listeriosis. 

Listeriosis is an illness to which pregnant women and their unborn children are very susceptible.

Listeria can be found in 

  • Refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods
  • Meat, poultry, seafood
  • Dairy - unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Foods made with unpasteurized milk
  • Soil
  • Foods made from infected animals.

L. monocytogenes is unusual because it can grow at refrigerator temperatures where most other foodborne bacteria do not. 

You can get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with L. monocytogenes. 

  • Ready-to-eat meats, poultry, seafood, and dairy products
  • Homemade soft cheese and other foods made from unpasteurized milk
  • Foods processed or packaged in unsanitary conditions
  • Vegetables that are contaminated from the soil or from manure

How could listeriosis affect me?

The symptoms can take a few days or even weeks to appear and may include fever, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea or upset stomach, headache, stiff neck, confusion, and loss of balance. In more serious cases, listeriosis could also lead to the mother's death.

Most of the time, pregnant women who are infected with listeriosis don't feel sick. However, they can pass the infection to their unborn babies without even knowing it. That's why prevention of listeriosis is very important. In any case, if you experience any of the above symptoms, see your doctor immediately.

Facts: Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeriosis than other healthy adults. An estimated 1/3 of all Listeria cases occur in pregnant women. 

How could listeriosis affect my baby?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, listeriosis may cause miscarriage. 

As the pregnancy progresses to third trimester, the mother is more at risk. Listeriosis can also lead to 

  • Premature labor
  • Delivery of a low-birth-weight infant
  • Intrauterine fetal death
  • Infant death

Fetuses who suffer a late infection may develop a wide range of health problems, including: 

  • Mental retardation
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Impairments of brain
  • Impairment of heart
  • Impairment of kidney
  • Blood Infection in newborn
  • Meningitis in newborn

How can I prevent listeriosis?

Listeriosis can be prevented

  • Your refrigerator should register 4° C or below
  • Place thermometer in refrigerator and check temperature weekly
  • Your freezer should register -18° C or below.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables within 2 hours of eating or preparation.
  • Discard food that's left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
  • When temperatures are above 32° C, discard food after one hour.
  • Use ready-to-eat, perishable foods, such as dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, and produce, as soon as possible. 

Listeriosis can be prevented

  • Clean your refrigerator regularly
  • Wipe up spills immediately
  • Clean the inside fridge with hot water and mild detergent then rinse
  • Once a week, check expiration and "use by" dates
  • Throw out foods if the date has passed
  • Follow the recommended storage times for foods


Don't eat:

  • Hot dogs and luncheon meats unless they're reheated and steaming hot
  • Soft cheeses like Feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses
  • Queso blanco or fresco unless they're made with pasteurized milk
  • Refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood* unless it's in a cooked dish, i.e. casserole
  • Raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods that contain unpasteurized milk

*(Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel is most often labeled as nova-style, kippered, smoked. These types of fish are found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens.) 


It's safe to eat:

  • Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads
  • Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood
  • Pasteurized milk or foods that contain pasteurized milk

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