How to kill listeria

Written by michele murray
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How to kill listeria
Listeria is an easily transmitted and dangerous form of bacteria that can cause serious illness or even death. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Listeria is a bacteria commonly found in water and vegetation; it also can be found in faeces. An otherwise healthy individual can become seriously ill if he consumes listeria. Pregnant women, young children and the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems, especially those with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or those being treated for cancer, are considered high-risk and should practice caution. Most often, listeria poisoning is caused by eating uncooked or improperly cooked foods. The best way to kill the bacteria is to cook food to the recommended minimum temperatures.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Cook eggs and any foods that contain raw eggs to a minimum of 71.1 degrees Celsius.

  2. 2

    Cook minced meat to at least 71.1 degrees C, poultry to at least 165, pork to at least 145 and seafood to at least 145.

  3. 3

    Cook hot dogs and cold cuts if you are a high-risk individual.

  4. 4

    Kill listeria on cooking surfaces by cleaning with bleach and water.

  5. 5

    Wash hands with soap and water after contact with raw meat. Clean and sanitise any surface that comes into contact with raw meat.

  6. 6

    Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove all dirt. Listeria can be transferred in contaminated soil.

  7. 7

    Choose only dairy products that have been pasteurised; the pasteurisation process kills the listeria bacteria.

Tips and warnings

  • Defrosting food quickly will help reduce the likelihood of a listeria outbreak.
  • Keep all meats refrigerated and frozen properly.
  • Use meats and refrigerated items by the "use by" dates. Discard them if the date has expired.
  • Contact a physician if you experience vomiting, headache, or fever combined with any nausea, diarrhoea or abdominal pain.
  • Pregnant women should contact their doctor if they have any flu-like symptoms. Even though the infection may not be as severe for the mother, it can be extremely dangerous to the unborn child.
  • Never leave food on the counter to defrost. Always defrost quickly in the refrigerator, microwave or in cold water.
  • Follow the preparation instructions on any packaged food carefully.

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