Slogan: "I’m not a fool; I grow where it’s cool.”
Habitat: Lives in cold, moist environments -- even in the refrigerator.
Common food sources: Unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, ready-to-eat deli meats, deli meats, sprouts, hot dogs, raw or under-cooked fish, smoked seafood, and ice cream.
Illness: Usually causes only a minor illness (fever and diarrhea) in adults. People at higher risk due to chronic illness or a weakened immune system can develop fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusion and even convulsions. This bacterium is especially dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause miscarriages and can be passed on to the unborn baby.
How to avoid: Rinse produce well and scrub firm produce like melons and cucumbers with a brush and dry them. Separate meat and poultry from other foods. Check the label on soft cheeses to make sure they are made from pasteurized milk. Heat ready-to-eat processed meats (lunch meat) before eating to kill Listeria if it is present.