One person has died and another six people have fallen ill following an outbreak of Listeria food poisoning.
The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria issued a health alert on Wednesday afternoon, warning people about the potentially serious infection.
“The Department of Health and Human Services has observed an increase in notifications of listeriosis in pregnant women and the elderly over recent weeks,” Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes said.
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“Although these cases have not been linked to each other or to a particular food, health professionals should be aware of the increased risk of listeriosis over summer.”
Dr Finn Romanes said most people contract listeriosis after eating contaminated food and urged them to make sure they handle, prepare and store food hygienically, especially over the Christmas period.
Individuals at higher risk of listeriosis have been urged to avoid:
- ready-to-eat seafood such as cooked chilled prawns, smoked fish or mussels, oysters or raw seafood such as sashimi or sushi
- pre-prepared or pre-packaged fruit and vegetable salads and sandwiches including those available from buffets, salad bars and sandwich bars
- drinks made from fresh fruit and vegetables where washing procedures are unknown (excluding pasteurised or canned juices)
- deli meats which are eaten without further cooking or heating, such as pate, ham, Strasbourg (Stras) and salami and cooked chicken (whole, portions or diced)
- any unpasteurised dairy products
- soft-serve ice creams
- soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, ricotta, blue and feta (these are safe if cooked and served hot)
- ready-to-eat foods, including leftover meats, which have been refrigerated for more than one day
- dips and salad dressings in which vegetables may have been dipped
- raw vegetable garnishes.
For further information on the latest health alert, click here.