Listeria risk to pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems


Listeriosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is usually acquired by eating food contaminated with this bacterium. It is especially dangerous in certain groups including pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Such people should avoid eating high-risk foods such as:

  • raw (unpasteurised) milk or foods made from raw milk,
  • soft or mould-ripened cheeses (e.g. feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses),
  • pâté and
  • smoked salmon.

Infection during pregnancy can lead to premature labour, meningitis in the newborn or even miscarriage and stillbirth. HPSC has a leaflet advising pregnant women how to minimise this risk. Safefood has advice for women in a range of languages.