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Listeria a cause of food recalls

Recently, Blue Bell ice cream company recalled more than two dozen products after they were linked to illness caused by a deadly bacteria called listeria. This has many people wondering about the bacteria. Here are the answers to a few questions.

What is it?

Listeria is a bacteria carried by animals and typically found in water and soil. It is found in processed meats, unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized cheese. It can contaminate an entire processing facility, since it can stay on equipment for a long time and grow even in a refrigerator.

What symptoms does Listeria cause?

Symptoms are varied and include muscle aches, fever and gastrointestinal problems. It can be especially dangerous to pregnant women because it increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and premature labor. Elderly people, those with compromised immune systems and babies are also at high risk. The worst cases can result in death, so anyone suspecting he or she may be affected by listeria should be examined by a doctor immediately.

What should I do?

If you have any food product from this company or any other company that had to issue recalls for health reasons, it is best to be safe and throw out all their products right away. If you have any concerns about you or your family having already eaten the products, it is best to seek medical attention as a precaution even if there are no symptoms.

Source: ABC News, "What to Know About Recent Food Recalls and Bacteria Listeria," Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, April. 11, 2015

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