Contaminated Hot Dogs? 
Listeriosis

bulletThe news story!
bulletWhat is the illness?
bulletHow is it spread?
bulletWhat are the recommendations to prevent it?
bulletWho is most at risk?

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What is Listerosis?

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes and has recently been recognized as an important public health problem in the United States.  Moist recently, hot dogs and luncheon means have been found to be contaminated (see news above).

Listeriosis is an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, a stiff neck and nausea. The disease can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and sometimes fatal infections in those with weak immune systems such as infants, the frail or elderly, and persons with chronic disease.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.

Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

How is it spread?

Listeria monocytogenes is found in soil and water, so vegetables can become contaminated from the soil or from manure used as fertilizer.

Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin such as meats and dairy products.

The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in processed foods that become contaminated after processing, such as soft cheeses and cold cuts at the deli counter.

Unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk may contain the bacterium.

Listeria is killed by pasteurization, and heating procedures used to prepare ready-to-eat processed meats should be sufficient to kill the bacterium; however, unless good manufacturing practices are followed, contamination can occur after processing.

General recommendations:

bulletCook thoroughly raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork or poultry. 
bulletWash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating. 
bulletKeep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods. 
bulletAvoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or foods made from raw milk. 
bulletWash hands, knives and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. 
bulletRecommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:
bulletAvoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined and Mexican-style cheese. (Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, cream cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt need not be avoided.) 
bulletCook until steaming hot leftover foods or ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs, before eating.
bulletAlthough the risk of listeriosis associated with foods from deli counters is relatively low, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons may choose to avoid these foods or thoroughly reheat cold cuts before eating.

Even with prompt treatment, some infections result in death. This is particularly likely in the elderly and in persons with other serious medical problems. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.

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Who is most at risk?

bulletPregnant women - They are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis.
bulletNewborns - Newborns rather than the pregnant women themselves suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy.
bulletPersons with weakened immune systems
bulletPersons with cancer, diabetes or kidney disease
bulletPersons with AIDS - They are almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems.
bulletPersons who take glucocorticosteroid medications
bulletThe elderly.

 

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News

November 17, 1999 - Robbins Packing Company (Statesboro, Georgia) voluntarily recalled approximately 1,500 pounds of hot dogs produced by  company due to possible contamination by listeria, a deadly bacteria according to news releases by the company.

The hot dogs have been distributed to mostly to grocery stores in east Georgia and west South Carolina, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

The company said that no illnesses were reported. The listeria contamination was discovered during routine sampling conducted by the Georgia Agriculture Dept.. According to state officials, the U.S. Agriculture Department was searching for the origin of the contamination.

All 12-oz. packages of Robbins Franks with the sell-by date of December 28, with lot code 1020 and EST 7932 inside the USDA seal of inspection, are subhect to the recall.

If you have purchased these products, you should return it to the store of purchase for a refund.

 


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This page was updated on December 03, 2002