Your prenatal care provider may have suggested that you avoid certain foods like soft cheeses and deli meats during pregnancy. In case you are wondering why, here’s the lowdown on a nasty food borne illness called Listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by a bacteria called Listerium monocytogenes.
Pregnant women and their babies can be seriously affected by Listeriosis, which can cause blood infections, meningitis, and other serious and life threatening complications. Fortunately, it is a relatively rare illness, with about 2500 cases annually in the United States. It is very serious, though, and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and infections and complications after the baby is born. The potentially devastating consequences of contracting Listeriosis make it worth implementing as many preventative practices as you can.
Fortunately, you can do your best to avoid Listeriosis by choosing to eat only foods that you know have been prepared and handled in a safe way. For example, deli meats and hot dogs must be cooked until they are steaming hot and then kept steaming hot until you eat them. Raw milk and cheeses made from raw milk are off the table until baby is born. Picnics, cookouts, and buffets should be approached with caution. If you are unable to determine whether the food has been heated and kept hot or cooled and kept cold, leave it alone. The same goes for the prepared salads behind the deli counter.
When you cook your own meals, cook meat and fish thoroughly. Leftovers are okay, as long as they go in the fridge right after the meal and are reheated thoroughly. Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with Listeria, so keep your kitchen very clean and wash and peel those fruits and veggies. Raw sprouts could be contaminated, so you may want to play it safe and pass on those until the end of your pregnancy.
Unfortunately, not all cases of Listeriosis cause symptoms. If you do start to feel like you are coming down with a flu or food poisoning, call your doctor right away so that they can test you. With an illness this serious, it is best to be as cautious as you can be.
Photo by Clarita on morguefile.com.