Preventing listeriosis 

The best way to prevent getting listeriosis is to always ensure that you follow good basic food hygiene.

This includes:

  • Peeling raw vegetables, salads or fruit, or washing them thoroughly before eating.
  • Washing your hands before preparing food, before eating and after going to the toilet.
  • Washing kitchen surfaces and utensils regularly, particularly after preparing raw meat, poultry and eggs.
  • Always separating raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Don't store raw meat above ready-to-eat foods, because there's a risk that juice containing harmful bacteria may leak from the raw meat.
  • Always cooking food thoroughly and checking cooking instructions carefully, including the cooking time.

For foods that are "ready to eat", the most important ways of reducing the risk of listeriosis are to:

  • not use food after its "use by" date
  • make sure that the temperature of your fridge is 0-5C
  • follow storage instructions on food labels

Read more information about food safety.

Advice for ‘at risk’ groups

People who are particularly vulnerable to a serious listeriosis infection include:

  • those over 65 years of age
  • pregnant women and their unborn babies
  • babies less than one month old
  • people with a weakened immune system such as with HIV or those on medication, such as chemotherapy

If you're in a high-risk group for catching listeriosis, you should avoid eating foods known to be at risk of listeria contamination.

Foods to avoid include:

  • soft mould-ripened cheese such as Brie, Camembert and chèvre (a type of goat's cheese)
  • soft blue-veined cheese such as Danish blue and gorgonzola 
  • all types of pâté including vegetable pâté
  • unpasteurised milk
  • undercooked food

It's safe to eat hard blue-veined cheese during pregnancy, such as Stilton, as well as other types of hard cheese, including Cheddar and Parmesan  even if these are made from unpasteurised milk.

Read more about foods to avoid during pregnancy.

Farm animals

Pregnant women should avoid close contact with farm animals that are giving birth or have recently given birth. This is to avoid the small, but serious, risk of an infection.

Read more about the potential risks of close contact with farm animals on GOV.UK.

Page last reviewed: 09/01/2015

Next review due: 01/01/2018