Foodborne illnesses

Food Safety


Listeriosis is a bacterial illness. Listeria is frequently found in soil, water and plant matter; and it has the ability to survive and grow in moist, cool locations such as refrigerators. Listeria is a common bacteria and is very difficult to eliminate. However, thorough cooking will destroy it. Listeriosis can be a severe illness for the old, very young and for people who are immuno-compromised.


The infection is usually characterized by nausea, vomiting, headaches, delirium, coma, collapse, shock and lesions on vital organs. In pregnant women, the illness can cause a miscarriage or result in stillbirths. Listeriosis may also cause severe retardation, meningitis and death in newborns.


Infected wild and domestic mammals and fowl are the most likely sources for Listeriosis. The organism is frequently found in soil, water and plant matter that animals ingest and excrete, allowing further transmission.

Mode of Transmission

When people become infected with Listeriosis, they may excrete the bacteria in their feces; thus handwashing is extremely important. Improper sanitation of refrigerators may increase spread of Listeriosis. Cheese made with unpasteurized milk may support the growth of Listeria during ripening and has been implicated in serious outbreaks.


  • Food-protection education

  • Good personal hygiene and handwashing

  • Keep facilities dry — Listeria can grow on wet floors, in drains, in ceiling condensates and on sponges 

  • Proper cleaning/sanitizing of equipment 

  • Washing vegetables/produce

  • Avoiding contact between raw and cooked foods


FDA’s Bad Bug Book

U.S. Centers for Disease Control


National Restaurant Association