Green janitorial services can help safely combat the rise in deadly listeria outbreaks in restaurants across the U.S.
Janitorial Services and Listeria Outbreaks
Listeria is a foodborne bacteria that causes Listeriosis, the third leading cause of death from food poisoning, especially among pregnant Hispanic women and those with weakened immune systems.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
CDC estimates that Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the United States.
About 1,600 people get sick from Listeria each year, and about 260 die.
- Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other people to get Listeria infection.
- Pregnant Hispanic women are 24 times more likely than other people to get Listeria infection.
- Pregnant women with a Listeria infection can pass the infection to their unborn babies.
- Listeria infections can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and preterm labor, and;
- Listeria infections can cause serious illness and even death in newborns.
Listeria is also very adaptable, surviving and growing at refrigeration temperatures, as well as in an aerosolized form, making cross-contamination of surfaces, even while cleaning, a real problem.
Fortunately, a well planned and executed green disinfection plan, combined with worker and consumer education, can do a great deal to prevent the cycle of infection.
Listeria Outbreak Timeline
Listeria infections can be difficult to isolate prior to advancing into outbreaks due to the amount of time between ingestion and infection, noticeable symptoms, seeking medical assistance, testing, and verification.
- It typically takes between 1 to 3 weeks, occasionally more than one month, for a person to show signs of illness after ingesting listeria.
- The average person will wait for about 2 days to seek medical attention.
- Diagnosis takes about 3 days after seeking medical attention.
- It takes about a week to ship the sample to a lab for testing.
- The lab test takes, on average, another 4 days.
- If confirmed, the lab has to ship the sample to the CDC, which can take up to 2 weeks.
- It takes the CDC about 5 days to sequence the genome and verify the infection.
Once that has completed, the CDC will attempt to identify similar cases to determine whether the particular sample was part of an ongoing outbreak or the potential sign of a new one.
That timeframe potentially translates into a lot of very sick people consuming the same contaminated food source over the course of nearly two months before actionable intelligence is available.
Green Cleaning Tips
Listeria can survive and spread at refrigerated temperatures.
- Use standard green cleaning practices in accordance with USDA regulations.
- Employ the ‘Two-Bucket’ cleaning method with color-coded microfiber cloths and mop heads to avoid cross contamination.
- If your regular cleaning staff uses ‘Drain Cleaning’ practices, listeria can become aerosolized and contaminate other food and surfaces, including people and clothing, so it is vital to ensure a top to bottom disinfection process is regularly employed.
- Ensure employees and all food handlers adhere to proper hand sanitation practices.
- Ensure work clothing, especially those soiled from meat or dairy/cream, are properly laundered.
- Follow the links in the references and resources section to identify foods that have been identified as likely carriers of Listeria, and avoid their consumption, especially if you are pregnant.
- If you are pregnant, speak to your prenatal care specialist to identify foods that you should avoid anyway.
- If you do become infected with listeria, or are caring for someone who has been diagnosed, make absolutely certain to properly launder all soiled fabrics and surfaces, and adhere to a strict hand hygiene regimen, especially before eating.
- Make every effort to avoid contact between an infected person and young children, those over 65 years old, or women who are pregnant or nursing.
References & Resources
- Listeria (Listeriosis)
- People at Risk
- Fighting Food Manufacturing Fears: How to Control & Eliminate Listeria
Listeria infections and outbreaks are difficult and time-consuming to identify.
Rectifying the damage caused by an outbreak can be financially devastating to restaurants, grocery chains, and food manufacturers tied to the outbreak, and lost reputation may prove to be an even more insurmountable hurdle.
A certified green cleaning program can help safely eliminate listeria and other infectious bacteria and disease prior to it contaminating food.
If you would like to learn more about the advantages of certified green janitorial services to safeguard against listeria and other bacteria outbreaks, contact us today for a free quote!
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