This is not just a bunch of baloney. It also isn’t simply cheesy. According to a new warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is now a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to deli-sliced meats and cheeses.
As the CDC investigation notice from April 17 indicates, so far there have been eight reported cases from four different states (Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania). All eight people were admitted to the hospital. One person from Michigan has died. This outbreak has spanned several years, with six of the cases reported from November 2016 to February 2018 and two reported in early 2019.
The CDC and other health officials have been trying to figure out what the eight ate in common. Here’s what they found after interviewing 6 of the people who had gotten ill. Five of them, “reported eating products sliced at a deli counter, including meats and cheeses,” according to the CDC notice. It wasn’t just one type of product from one deli counter at a single location. Officials have not yet been able to isolate a single common source for all of those affected.
A Listeria infection is not a good thing to get. If someone asks you if your would like some listerosis, just say no. It is not the same thing as Listerine. I have already written for Forbes about how it can make you feel like poop and go poop in a diarrhea-sort of way. Even worse, in some cases, Listeria can invade your brain and the membranes around your brain, causing encephalitis or meningitis. These are also things that you definitely don’t want to have, unless you like your life being threatened. Listeria infections can be particularly bad for pregnant women as well, leading to miscarriages, premature deliveries, stillbirths, and infections in the newborn.
The CDC is not saying keep the deli away from your belly. You can still eat deli meats and cheese, assuming that they are not unusually smelly. However, take standard precautions and keep on the lookout for additional warning on the telly (or the radio or the Internet). Make sure that your deli cleans and sanitizes its slicers and all other equipment and areas that may touch the meats and cheeses. It’s OK to ask your deli how they keep their slicers and equipment clean. If they push back, then you may want to go to a new deli.
If you are at higher risk for a Listeria infection, you may want to avoid deli meats or other similar cold cuts, regardless of whether there is an active Listeria outbreak. This would be the case if you are pregnant or your immune system is weakened from a medical condition or medications. You also want to be careful if you are a newborn or older than 65 years old. If you are a newborn and older than 65 years old, something may be wrong with you.
If you are at higher risk for a Listeria infection, but must eat deli meats or cheese, heat them first to at least 165°F to kill any possible Listeria. Of course, let the meat cool down a bit before eating it. Shoving steaming hot pastrami into your mouth could go very badly, very quickly.