A total of eight people have been infected and hospitalized from an outbreak of a strain of Listeria monocytogenes in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where a patient has died.
The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from meat sliced at a deli and from deli counters in multiple stores, though a single common supplier of deli products has not been identified.
The CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating products prepared at delis, or that retailers stop selling deli-sliced products. However, they do advise that:
– Retailers clean and sanitize deli slicers more frequently, as well as areas where deli products are prepared, stored, or served to avoid cross contamination
– People at higher risk for a severe infection (Pregnant women, newborns, adults age 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems) handle deli-sliced meats and cheeses more carefully to prevent illness.
Listeria bacteria can survive at very low temperatures and can spread easily to other foods and surfaces. Consumers should clean refrigerators, kitchen countertops, utensils, and other surfaces that touch deli-sliced products. In addition:
– Don’t let juice from lunch meat and hot dog packages get on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces.
– Wash hands after handling deli meats, lunch meats, deli cheeses, and hot dogs.
– Store opened packages of meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.