If you’re doing your Christmas shopping, you’ll need to be aware of this: The Department of Heath and Human Services has confirmed six unlinked cases of listeria where one person has died and at least six others have been rushed to hospital after an outbreak of food poisoning. The source of the food poisoning in Victoria has not yet been revealed, but these multiple cases have driven authorities to issue a list of high-risk foods as millions of Australians grocery shop for their Christmas lunches. Authorities have also issued an alert warning to doctors of the dangers of listeria, which can be fatal for babies, the elderly and people with weak immune systems, reports Daily Mail.
Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes said in his health alert, “Be alert for listeriosis in high-risk patients over the summer months. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.”
The alert advised doctors to ‘educate at-risk patients’ about safe food-handling and staying vigilant about foods to avoid.
“Most people contract listeriosis after eating contaminated food.”
What is Listeria?
Listeria are bacteria that can cause a serious illness called listeriosis
Listeriosis is usually caused by eating contaminated food
Listeria symptoms usually occur around three weeks after eating
Early symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains
Listeria can be fatal for babies, the elderly and people with weak immune systems
High-risk foods you should avoid
According to the Victoria State Government, individuals at risk of listeriosis should particularly avoid:
1. Ready-to-eat seafood such as cooked chilled prawns, smoked fish or mussels, oysters or raw seafood such as sashimi or sushi
2. Pre-prepared or pre-packaged fruit and vegetable salads and sandwiches including those available from buffets, salad bars and sandwich bars
3. Drinks made from fresh fruit and vegetables where washing procedures are unknown (excluding pasteurised or canned juices)
4. Deli meats which are eaten without further cooking or heating, such as pate, ham, Strasbourg (Stras), salami and cooked chicken (whole, portions or diced)
any unpasteurised dairy products
5. Soft-serve ice creams
6. Soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, blue and feta (these are safe if cooked and served hot)
7. Ready-to-eat foods, including leftover meats, which have been refrigerated for more than one day
8. Dips and salad dressings in which vegetables may have been dipped
9. Raw vegetable garnishes.