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A disease-causing, durable, foodborne bacteria, Listeria is known as an “omnipresent” organism that can be found in almost every environment. It’s most often found in raw meat, poultry, milk, vegetables, soil, open water, and animal feces, which means it’s a real concern for food manufacturers who want to maintain a clean facility. Because it’s so common, it’s nearly impossible to prevent from entering your facility. However, understanding what Listeria is, the dangers of a Listeria outbreak, and how to maintain clean and sanitized surfaces are key steps in preventing contaminated food products.

 

What is Listeria (Listeriosis)?

According to the FDA, Listeria monocytogenes is a series of disease-causing bacteria that can be found in moist environments, soil, water, decaying vegetation, and animals. This pathogenic bacterium can survive and even grow under refrigeration and other food preservation measures. If people eat food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, then they can develop a disease called listeriosis.

Listeria monocytogenes is often transmitted when food is harvested, processed, prepared, packed, transported, or stored in environments contaminated with these foodborne bacteria. Anything including raw materials, water, soil, incoming air, and pets can spread bacteria, which is why it’s important to be mindful of food safety.

 

Why Should Food Manufacturers Worry About Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenes is not the only foodborne bacteria out there… so why should food manufacturers worry about it? The simple answer is because it’s found almost everywhere. This means total prevention is nearly impossible, and without food grade fumigation and chlorine dioxide room decontamination, it can cause serious and sometimes fatal foodborne illnesses.

The CDC estimates that Listeria alone causes 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths per year in the United States alone. Individuals who are pregnant, elderly, or have compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to Listeria-related illness.

 

What Complications Can Listeria Cause?

First and foremost, Listeria can cause listeriosis. This illness comes in mild to severe forms with symptoms ranging from fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. For the most vulnerable (very young and very elderly), listeriosis can sometimes even result in death. Additionally, Listeria can also cause meningitis, endocarditis, spontaneous miscarriage, or stillbirth.

 

How Can You Prevent Listeria from Contaminating Food Products?

As noted above, it can be nearly impossible to prevent Listeria from entering your food manufacturing facility. So, it’s not necessarily a question of if your manufacturing plant has Listeria, but where it is growing and if the Listeria will encounter food.

Areas where Listeria is commonly found:

  • Floors
  • Drains
  • Cleaning and washing areas
  • Food contact equipment
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Compressed air and HVAC systems
  • Permeable surfaces
  • Open seams
  • Crevices
  • Hard-to-reach or hard-to-clean parts of equipment

To prevent any potential contact with food, we recommend food grade fumigation and chlorine dioxide room decontamination of these surfaces. Chlorine dioxide has been approved by the FDA for use as a disinfectant in the processing of food and beverages. If you’re looking for a high-quality disinfectant that will prevent Listeria without impacting the taste of your food products, visit here. PureLine Solutions is prepared to help you with your sanitization needs.

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