bemybabynow

Posts Tagged ‘listeria

So you want a baby, huh? Just like generations of women before you, now you are pregnant. A natural, biological process that has been going on since humans in their modern form first walked this Earth some 500, 000 years ago.

Sounds like your body was meant to do this, right? And since there are almost 7 billion people on this planet now inhabiting all manner of locations and conditions,  your instincts and some common sense should be all one needs in a modern, controlled environment of Western Civilization, right?

Wrong!

Things that you used to eat, tasks you performed without a second thought could cause you imminent danger. You are given a list of foods not to eat, substances to stay away from, and pretty much no reasons why or any real facts about what the cause and effect are.

Why? Because you should just do what you’re told. If you get a chance to think for yourself, you will always make the wrong decision. And since you’ve got another person inside you that can’t choose for themselves, you will not be given the chance to weigh your risks by being given any accurate, factual information.

We are told to stay away from deli meats and soft cheeses. This is because these foods may harbor listeria, a bacteria that can cause serious complications in a pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely than the population at large to come down with listeriosis, so it is even more important that they avoid this bacteria.

Here’s the problem: listeria can be found in a lot of foods. Especially prepackaged foods. It was just found in melons this August (melon outbreak). Raw vegetables, bagged salads, raw meats, raw, unaged cheese, (listeria outbreaks) these can all be carriers. Even frozen waffles were implicated (waffle outbreak).

Where’s the lunch meat? And all the cheese? Well, there was an outbreak from turkey deli meat in 2002. And there were listeria infections that resulted from eating homemade and/or unregulated Mexican style fresh cheese. This cheese is unaged and not monitored (not that I’m saying the government is the answer, believe me. What they find to be acceptable food standards can be horrifying).

But since I was going down this road of no Boar’s Head sandwiches, no feta cheese, no soft unpasteurized French cheeses, I decided to do a little investigation. Do you know how hard it is to find an unpasteurized, unaged cheese for sale at any type of market or on any menu? It is against the law in the US to sell or serve an unpasteurized cheese that hasn’t been aged for at least 60 days (the aging kills the listeria). And any food person will tell you that foreign or foreign style cheese sold in the US, even at upper end retailers (Whole Foods, Fairway) are pasteurized and if not, aged at least 60 days. So I’m thinking that my local Greek place isn’t serving some exotic feta, it’s pasteurized just like all the others I found in my deli case at the local market.

Deli meat outbreaks have been very few. A lot of these products (including the ones listed before) are prepackaged and highly handled in factories that are of questionable cleanliness (even if monitored by the FDA-hah). Here’s the thing: more handling and processing=more surface area exposure. Which means a bacteria frenzy waiting to happen. That’s what happens with ground meat. And precut vegetables, bagged salads, other processed foods. You’re relying on the cleanliness of everything that food touches along it’s processing path. A package of pre cut lunch meats sitting in a cold food case is bacteria heaven. Wash whatever you can, and heat things you’re unsure of. Of course with the waffle situation, I’m not sure who’s eating waffles without toasting them. The heat kills the bacteria, so unless you’re eating a frozen Eggo, you’re okay I would think.

I’m not denying the reality of these infections. And I know there have been women that have lost their children due to this horrible infection. But let’s get real, here? What are the risks? How do these infections really happen? Instead of making us crazy, give pregnant women (and everyone else for that matter) some real facts.

I’m thinking the powers that be avoid giving out facts partly because they don’t trust women to make the right choices. But partly because they do know some of us will make the right choices given the proper information. And we as women and mothers may be outraged at how our government is really overseeing our food cleanliness. We may start asking questions. We may stop buying crap. We may force a change for the better that won’t allow for sloppiness, kickbacks and a food system that reduces the overall health of our citizens.

As for me, I ate a Greek salad this week. I had a sandwich today (from freshly sliced meat). And I may even have some cheese this weekend.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

M

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