Businesspeople having a lunch break.Listeria concerns continue to rise as food products from multiple companies are recalled over possible contamination. Blue Bell Ice Cream recalled a number of its products after ice cream cups produced at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma facility tested positive for listeria. The recall was in response to a listeria outbreak at a Kansas hospital where five people were infected and three died after eating Blue Bell ice cream.

This week, federal health authorities confirmed that three people in Texas also became ill after eating Blue Bell ice cream at a hospital. Blue Bell expanded its list of recalled products this week, and the full list can be found here.

Ice cream isn’t the only food facing fear over listeria. On Thursday, Sabra Dipping Company recalled 30,000 cases of hummus due to possible listeria contamination. A random sample collected at a Michigan store tested positive for the bacteria, but so far no illnesses have been reported.

Health threats like listeria can have a significant impact on your office and employees. Use the following information to learn about listeria and how you a can avoid an outbreak at your company.


Listeria is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the listeria monocytogeneses bacteria. It usually affects older adults, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems, but people without these risk factors can still be affected.


The symptoms of listeria are usually fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Other symptoms vary based on whether or not the person is pregnant:

Pregnant women—fever, fatigue, and aches.

People other than pregnant women—headache, stiff neck, confusion, and loss of balance.

Preventing Listeria

You can prevent the spread of listeria by avoiding foods that have been recalled because of the bacteria. Also, use the following guidelines to properly wash and handle your food:

  • Wash hands with soap and water before food preparation and consumption.
  • Cook meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly.
  • Separate raw meat from all other food products.
  • Clean produce thoroughly before consuming.

Responding to Listeria

If you experience any of the symptoms of listeria within 2 months of eating contaminated food, seek medical care and tell the physician about the food you have eaten. If an outbreak occurs, cooperate with medical investigators and assist in identifying possible sources of the illness. Do not throw away the food in question until the investigation is complete.

Recovering from Listeria

Listeria is usually treated with antibiotics. It is also important to replace fluids to prevent dehydration during the recovery process. If symptoms persist after three days, further medical attention may be required.

For more information, visit the Food Poisoning/Foodborne Illness section in the Knowledge Center of your portal, or contact your Client Services representative.

2015 Content Intern