Listeria is an infection typically acquired from contaminated food. The recent recall of certain packaged salad products (see link below) highlights this. While there have only been 8 cases identified in the US, a recall and warning about the suspected products has been issued for the US and eastern Canada.

In pregnancy, listeria is not only a risk to the pregnant woman (and pregnancy may increase the risk of acquiring the infection) but it can also have devastating effects on the fetus. Anyone who has consumed food that is suspected of being contaminated or has been recalled should watch for symptoms which can occur within days or up to two months after. Typical symptoms are flu-like and include fever, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, and nausea. If you are pregnant and are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially fever, consult your doctor immediately. A blood culture for listeria can be done. Pregnant women who do not have symptoms do not need to have testing done.

Foods that have a greater chance of contamination with listeria include:

  • Unwashed raw produce (when eating raw fruits and vegetables, skin should be washed thoroughly in running tap water, even if it will be peeled or cut)
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats, or cold cuts served cold or heated to less than 165 degrees
  • Refrigerated pâté and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as feta, Brie and blue-veined cheeses

Pregnant women should reduce or avoid these foods to minimize their risk of exposure.

For more information about the outbreak and recalled products, click here.