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In the UK, illness from Listeria has increased, particularly among those people over 60 who have weakened immune systems. Although listeriosis isn’t common, it can be life-threatening in people with reduced immunity. People with weakened immunity could include those who’ve had transplants, are taking drugs that weaken the immune system or who have cancers that affect their immune systems, such as leukaemia or lymphoma. 

Listeriosis has sometimes been linked to eating chilled ready-to-eat foods, and controls are therefore needed to minimise the risk from this source. Listeria has been found in a range of chilled ready-to-eat foods, such as pre-packed sandwiches, pâté, butter, soft mould-ripened cheeses, cooked sliced meats and smoked salmon. The government advised that vulnerable people should avoid soft mould-ripened cheese, such as Camembert and Brie, soft blue cheese, and all types of pâté, including vegetable. 

The incubation period is 1 day to 3 months and it multiplies between minus 1.5 and 42 degrees and can multiply slowly in refrigerated foods.

Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, so chilled foods must be kept cold and eaten by their ‘use by’ dates. Keep chilled ready-to-eat food cold. 
make sure the fridge is set at 5 degrees C or below and working correctly. When foods are taken out of chilled storage, they should be eaten within four hours, after that, you should throw the food away. The temperature needs to be maintained from production till serving and you must use opened foods within two days unless the manufacturer’s instructions state otherwise.

The symptoms are flu-like and include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, septicaemia, meningitis and abortion. The death rate for people affected can be up to 30% but it has to be taken in to account that most people who do die, have other underlying medical conditions.