What is Listeria?
Listeria monocytogenes is the cause of the disease called Listeriosis, a disease transmitted after eating food contaminated with this microorganism. It has a wide distribution among products that come from fields of cultivation and animals, and can also be present in pets.
Among the at-risk population are pregnant women and people with immune system problems, since, compared to other diseases that can be caused due to infections after eating food, this is the most lethal.
Foods in which this pathogen has been found are vegetables, fruits, sausages derived from pork, dairy products and also fish, and each year the number of recorded cases of listeriosis increases slightly.
Listeria contamination in the food and hospitality industry is the most serious,from a health and business point of view. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is an emerging bacterium that causes a risk arising from a danger already known with new or increased exposure and/or with increasing sensitivity and therefore, on which action must be taken with prevention and control measures.
Listeria can also develop in habitats with conditions so adverse that they would even be unviable for other pathogenic microorganisms that can contaminate food. Listeria resists certain techniques of disinfection and cleaning of food as it grows into a colony that generates biofilms on its surface that protects it from external factors. It can survive sub-zero temperatures and withstands up to 45oC, no less, so it can be found in refrigerated foods and ready-to-eat meat products.
Listeriosis: Symptoms, risk population and Risks of infection
The first symptoms of listeria disease, listeriosis, can appear even after weeks or a couple of months after intake of a contaminated product and make the disease look like a simple flu. Although there are few cases of death due to infection,in pregnant women it can lead to premature births, death of the fetus or newborn. In children and the elderly it causes meningitis, pneumonia or sepsis, while in healthy adults it can also cause severe respiratory disorders.
Listeriosis disease can last only a few days or it may take weeks before you can recover from listeria. Symptoms of the disease can occur from a few days to two months after taking the contaminated food.
Symptoms may vary depending on the person or part of the body it affects, with the main symptoms being:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Muscular Pain
- Tiredness and Weakness
- Balance problems
Listeriosis is generally a mild disease for the general population, but it is aggravated in certain risk groups such as:
- Pregnant Women
- People with weakened immune systems
Treatment by Listeria depends on symptoms, but most people with mild symptoms do not require treatment and people with more serious infections are often treated with antibiotics.
Prevention of Listeria
To prevent any possible infection it is essential to clean and disinfect carefully the surfaces, machinery and utensils with which the products to be consumed will be worked. This concerns bars, caters, school canteens, hospital kitchens, social canteens, etc. Also add the good maintenance and cleanliness of refrigeration systems and proper handling of food, following strict methodologies of hygiene and food safety.
Livestock products (pigs, cows…) are the most vulnerable to microorganisms by being able to transmit a zoonosis, any disease present in animals capable of spreading to humans. This suggests that often the methods that are commonly used are not effective for, as is the case, listeriosis.
Other recommendations include:
- Use procedures that remove bacteria, such as pasteurization or cooking.
- Avoid cross-contamination.
- Do not store food for long periods of time and avoid breaking the cold chain, which would further benefit the growth of the bacteria.
- Include the risk of listeria contamination in the APPCC system and keep an adequate control.
- Control environment, vectors, filters, ventilation and debris.
Correct information on product labelling, as well as recommendations on the temperature of preservation, handling or product life are essential.
Effective ozone disinfectant against listeria
Faced with these problems, ozone is presented as a tailor-made solution,offering remedies both in the industrial field and for each consumer per individual. According to FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) the use of ozone in both gaseous and ozoned water ensures optimal disinfection and hygiene without leaving any type of chemical waste, both on the surfaces where the food and utensils used for this process are handled, as well as in the spaces reserved for the preservation and/or refrigeration of the products to be consumed. This extends the shelf life of the products, avoids biological contamination along with the potential risks that the presence of the products can entail, as well as reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
ASP ozone services provide immediately ozoned water to properly hygienize all food and surfaces. In this way bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms guilty of many infections are avoided. Ozone is a natural disinfectant and ozoned water uses this active ozone substance to completely eliminate all elements harmful to health. It leaves no chemical residue as it transforms back into oxygen after a few minutes. That is why its use is totally safe and does not affect the organoleptic qualities of food.
Ozone gas in cold rooms is another use of ozone in the food and hospitality industry, as well as using it to keep disinfected machinery, utensils, knives etc. This ensures better food conservation and completely eliminates the possibility of contamination of the product, including cross-contamination, and possible food poisoning in people.
It seems appropriate to stress that avoiding listeria is very important because of the health risk, but also for affecting the company responsible very negatively economically; who may be forced to close for sanctions, compensation and administrative measures.