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Listeria case in melons raises concerns

A strange source of listeria poisoning highlights the importance of food hygiene during pregnancy

Posted: 7 October 2011
by Sophie Westnedge
Food Hygiene
A case of listeria found in cantaloupe melons highlights the importance of food hygiene for pregnant women

An unusual case of listeria bacteria found in cantaloupe melons in the US raises fresh concerns about listeria poisoning and highlights the importance of food hygiene standards during pregnancy.

A pregnant woman in the USA suffered a miscarriage after eating a cantaloupe melon which contained listeria bacteria. This is the first ever case of listeria in melons and it raises new concerns around the bacteria and pregnant women.

Listeria infections are dangerous for mums-to-be, whose immune systems are lower than usual. The infection can cross the placenta and affect the growing baby. Listeria poisoning in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, although this is very rare.

Pregnant women regularly reminded to avoid common sources of Listeria including soft ripened cheeses, such as Camembert, Brie and blue-veined varieties. For good advice on what foods can contain listeria check out the Food Standards Agency website.

The revelation that other foods, such as melons, may also have listeria bacteria means that pregnant women should take extra care with basic food hygiene.

The Health Protection agency provides advice on food hygiene and suggests you “wash salads, fruit and raw vegetables thoroughly before eating”. It also advises that you should “keep foods for as short a time as possible and follow storage instructions including 'use by' and 'eat by' dates”.

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