The stories of foodborne illnesses are never “pretty.” However, it is sometimes necessary to read the personal stories of how pathogens can affect our lives in perhaps more ways than just a couple of days of digestive upsets. Listeria bacteria can get into a food processing plant where they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products. This is why we see so many food recalls involving Listeria monocytogenes contamination in our food supply. The bacteria can also live at refrigerated temperatures.
L. monocytogenese affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. There are about 1600 people affected each year and about 260 cases are fatal. Healthy people rarely get the infection.