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Beware Those Cravings

Rare, but Dangerous

Just Avoid It

Cold, even near freezing, temperatures do not easily subdue Listeria. So while the average refrigerator, maintaining the otherwise safe 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit, can stop most other food-borne pathogens -- including the notorious E. coli -- from proliferating, time in the cold box doesn't halt Listeria.

"If you put a package of [tainted] hot dogs in the refrigerator for several weeks, a very small level of Listeria can grow into a serious contamination," says Catherine Donnelly, PhD, a food microbiologist at the University of Vermont.

DeWaal offers the following tips:

  • Consume only milk products made from pasteurized milk.
  • Avoid pâtés; soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, and feta; and blue-veined cheeses such as Roquefort.
  • Cook all raw meat thoroughly. Do not sample meat while cooking.
  • Keep raw meats separate from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Reheat leftovers and ready-to-eat foods such as cold cuts until they are steaming.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables vigorously under running water.

Rochelle Jones is a writer based in Bethesda, Md. She has covered health and medicine for The New York Daily News and The St. Petersburg Times.

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