Deli meats and cheeses have been linked to an outbreak of Listeria food poisoning infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most of the people who got sick are of Eastern European descent or speak Russian, the CDC said. The agency is still investigating why this population has ben disproportionately affected.
The current outbreak involves at least 16 illnesses between April 2021 and August 2022, including one person who died, according to the CDC outbreak investigation.
Illnesses have been reported in six states, but more states may be impacted by the outbreak, according to the CDC.
The states where cases have been reported include California (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (2), New Jersey (1), and New York (7).
Deli meats include cold cuts, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pâtés. Cheeses can also be contaminated. This is because Listeria bacteria easily spreads on deli slicers, surfaces, and hands.
Unlike other bacteria, Listeria can survive freezing and thrive at refrigeration temperatures — which makes it hard to eliminate from deli counters.
Deli meat and cheese are a recurrent source of Listeria outbreaks, which is why health experts recommend that pregnant women and other high-risk people avoid eating these foods.
“You are at higher risk for severe Listeria illness if you are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments,” according to the CDC.
If you belong to any of these groups, “do not eat meat or cheese from any deli counter, unless it is reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot,” health officials recommend.