In 2008 in Canada, listeria from Maple Leaf Foods’ lunchmeat sickens 57, resulting in 23 deaths. In the U.S., every year, there are about 1,850 serious illnesses and 425 deaths related to listeria, 85% from lunchmeat. The CDC is warning older people to heat lunchmeat. I grew up poor in the South, now at 65 I’m going to have to go back to the fried baloney sandwiches of my childhood.
What really got me thinking about listeria and lunchmeat was the visit to my daughter’s a few weeks ago. She is expecting her second child and was going through with me all the foods she could not eat during her pregnancy. Lebanon bologna, one of her favorites, becomes a big no-no. Her obstetrician had given her a warning about lunchmeat and listeria. As a part of my job I give food safety training and talk about the organisms of concern like Listeria monocytogenes. I tell of its insidious nature, the unsuspecting pregnant woman thinks she has the flu, and then she loses the baby she is carrying. Without obstetricians getting the word out, that unsuspecting pregnant woman could have been my daughter and that baby my precious granddaughter.