How Does Listeria Get into Our Deli Meat and Cheese?
Listeria bacteria found in soil and water can infect both plants and animals. The thing is, animals with infection can appear healthy, so livestock handlers might continue to get meat and milk from them and sell them to the market. If someone eats raw meat or drinks unpasteurized milk, the risk of contracting listeria infection increases.
If that’s the case, then why do some people get listeria from deli meat and cheese? These products are cooked, right?
Yes, deli meats, also called luncheon meats or cold cuts, are precooked or cured slices of meat. However, you can still get listeria from eating them. According to experts, the processes that occur after cooking, such as handling, slicing, and storage, can get the bacteria into the meat.
As for cheeses, please remember that some kinds are made with unpasteurized milk. Additionally, soft cheeses such as camembert and brie are surface-ripened, which means they ripe from the surface down to the interior with the help of molds, bacteria, or yeast.
I recently ate deli meats and soft cheeses, what should I do?
Have you recently eaten luncheon meat and soft cheese? Perhaps from grazing gift boxes that contain an assortment of dried fruits, deli meats, soft and hard cheeses, nuts, and crackers? If so, you don’t need to do anything unless you develop the signs and symptoms of listeria or another foodborne disease.