VERIFY: Should You Take Listeria Food Recalls Seriously?

Verify: Listeria

GREENSBORO, NC -- Just Google 'WFMY Listeria.' You'll find a list of 10+ food recalls we've told you about over the past few months.

The products are different, but the story line is the same -- a manufacturer issued a product recall because of Listeria concerns.

That's why our Verify team is digging deeper into Listeria -- the dangers and who's most at risk.

VERIFY QUESTION

Should you take Listeria food recalls seriously?

VERIFY SOURCES

We talked to Paula Cox, the environmental health, food and lodging manager with the Guilford County Department of Public Health. 

VERIFY PROCESS

Cox explained Listeria is a bacteria that causes food-borne illness. It can get into food from multiple sources. Sometimes, plants produce it. Also, it manifests in unpasteurized milk, lunch meats and hot dogs.That's why doctors advise pregnant women not to consume those foods.

"The thing that makes Listeria most dangerous is that with pregnant women, it is one of the only infections that we track that can cause an abortion of the fetus," she said.

"Even if you're healthy and pregnant, if you eat something with Listeria, it can cause damage or even death to your unborn child."

So, it's much more serious than E-Coli, which can harm the unborn baby but usually doesn't cause death. Listeria symptoms are similar to the flu -- fever, diarrhea, dehydration, etc. The severity depends on the person's immune system, and a lab test is necessary to confirm it. The right diagnosis determines the right antibiotics.

"We get a lot of folks who call in thinking they have food poisoning, but when asked if they have a lab confirmation for it, they don't. And to us, food poisoning is not food poisoning until we get a lab confirmation saying yes, it's Listeria or it's E-Coli or Salmonella."

VERIFY CONCLUSION

Cox was able to help us verify yes, you should take food recalls seriously, especially if they pertain to Listeria concerns. The recall doesn't mean there's Listeria in the food, but it has been detected somewhere in the factory.

"If you do hear of a recall and you buy that product, check. Look in your fridge and if it’s part of that recall, get rid of it. It’s not worth getting sick with Listeria if it's something you can prevent."

Copyright 2017 WFMY


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