Food-borne infections caused by toxoplasmosis and listeria

The rules of basic hygiene

Hands are the primary sources of germs in food.
  • Wash your hands
    • Before eating
    • After using the toilet
    • Before cooking ... non-exhaustive list
  • Refrigerator
    • The temperature must be set to 5 degrees
    • The food purchased must be put inside it quickly
    • It should be cleaned several times a month
  • Cook thoroughly meat and fish.
  • Wash thoroughly raw vegetables and herbs


All pregnant women MUST take precautions to avoid becoming infected with Toxoplasmosis.

This disease is caused by a parasite found in certain foods, like meat or vegetables, or by direct contact with cat's faeces in cat litter or in soil.
It can cause miscarriage, blindness or brain damage.

Pregnant women should be aware of the risks of acquiring Toxoplasmosis and follow the notes below to minimise the this risk:
  • Take care with cats: avoid direct contact with anything that may be contaminated by cat faeces and urine and use gloves. Cat litter trays should be disinfected with bleach.
  • Wash fruit, vegetables and herbs thoroughly, especially when eaten raw.
  • Avoid raw vegetables when eating out in restaurants; choose cooked vegetables, and meat should be well cooked, or choose poultry and fish
  • Cook all meat thoroughly
  • Avoid rare, smoked, raw, and marinated meat.
  • Avoid direct contact with soil and wear gloves when gardening taking care to always wash your hands after gardening.

Screening for Toxoplasmosis is not routinely offered, but if your circumstances increase your risk of acquiring it then testing is recommend as often as every month during your pregnancy. Discuss your concerns with your midwife or GP.

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This infection is mainly transmitted by ingestion of food contaminated by a bacteria - listeria monocytogenes.

It occurs mainly in pregnant women and newborn babies . This disease is of little consequence for most individuals.

Pregnant women

  • Listeriosis can pass unnoticed.
  • These events are often similar to those caused by flu.

In the fetus listeriosis can cause

  • A spontaneous abortion
  • A premature birth
  • Contaminate the baby after birth

In the newborn

Listeriosis can cause skin, respiratory or neurological diseases.

Tips for avoiding listeriosis

  • Avoid eating raw fish, smoked fish, raw shellfish and sushi
  • Avoid cold cuts
  • Avoid unpasteurised milk and unpasteurised cheeses. Remove the cheese rind.
  • Avoid raw sprouted seeds such as soybeans.
  • Cook all food thoroughly
  • Wash thoroughly vegetables and herbs
  • Separate cooked food from raw food...

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