On Friday it was announced that three people had died in recent years as a result of eating meats contaminated with listeria. How dangerous is this bacterium and what can you do to prevent an infection?

What exactly is listeria?

Listeria is a pathogenic bacterium that occurs everywhere in nature, such as in soil and water. However, the bacteria is most common in products of animal origin, such as meat. There are different varieties of listeria, but you can get quite sick of one species. Annually, about eighty cases of a listeria infection are reported.

How dangerous is the bacterium?

Most people who come into contact with listeria do not notice it or only get mild flu symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. However, vulnerable groups run a greater risk. For example, pregnant women may experience premature birth or miscarriage. In any case, pregnant women are generally twenty times more likely to fall ill than those with a normal immune system.

Young children, the elderly or people with a weakened immune system also run a greater risk. With them, listeria can lead to blood poisoning or meningitis. Such an infection can have fatal consequences.

How do I know if my meat products are possibly contaminated?

Jumbo, Aldi, Sligro and Versunie are customers of the meat factory where the bacteria was discovered. Possibly contaminated meat products have been removed from the shelves by the supermarkets, so all meat that is still in the supermarket is safe.

In order to find out for yourself whether you have risky meat products in the fridge, the supermarkets have released lists of possibly contaminated meat products. 130 products were removed from the shelves at Jumbo. Wholesaler Sligro has also published a substantial list. At Aldi there are four products: sliced ​​roast beef, the 'tapas sausage assortment', fricandeau and seasoned beef roulade. Other chains inform their customers themselves about potentially contaminated products.

Customers who have purchased contaminated meat are called to return it to the store.

What if I have eaten a potentially contaminated product?

If you have eaten one of the meat products, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) recommends that you contact your doctor only in the event of a serious illness accompanied by fever. A blood test can be used to determine if there is any listeriosis, the disease that you can get as a result of a listeria infection. The bacterium can be treated with antibiotics.

What measures can you generally take to prevent contamination with this bacterium?

The Voedingscentrum recommends that food should always be heated properly. The bacterium does not survive temperatures above 70 degrees.

In addition, it is advised to always keep refrigerated products such as meat (s) in a well-adjusted refrigerator, preferably at a temperature of four degrees. The Voedingscentrum also recommends disposing of perishable food after the expiry date.

Risk groups can better avoid raw products such as meat, egg, milk and fish. Ready-made smoked fish, such as salmon or eel from the refrigerator, can best be avoided. This is because the bacteria can easily multiply in these long-lasting products.


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