Listeria - the real takeaway - | IVF Treatment | Monash IVF Australia

Listeria – the real takeaway

Julie Vecera

Acupuncturist, Nutritionist and Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner
View more about Julie via website here



We all hear about foods not to eat once pregnant or after an embryo transfer. The main reason for this is for susceptibility for Listeria – So what is Listeria? and just how dangerous is it to a mother and her unborn child?

Listeria is an illness that is caused by eating foods contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria can be found in almost everything. One in 20 adults carry the bacteria but remain unaware because they experience no symptoms. Listeria is caused by consuming foods that have been contaminated by the bacteria which can be found in soil, water, chicken, cows and animal faeces. The infection can be dangerous for the elderly, ill or pregnant women. Listeria can cross the placental barrier which can cause serious fetal infections leading to miscarriage, premature birth, still born or an ill child. Although fairly rare in Australia, pregnant women are around 10-20 times more likely to get Listeria than other healthy adults.

Symptoms can be mild to severe and include:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • headache
  • aches and pains
  • meningitis
  • septicaemia (blood poisoning)

It can feel a bit like having food poisoning so make sure you have a check-up with a health professional, particularly if you’re pregnant and feel such symptoms. If your blood test shows you’re positive for Listeria then you will be given antibiotics which should clear up the infection.

To prevent any risks from Listeria it’s best to avoid certain foods and remain hygienic. Listeria flourishes in your refrigerator so if you haven’t eaten your goods within a few days then toss them out while pregnant. Wash all your produce really well when you bring it home (or even from your own garden) – cooking food kills Listeria.

Limit your raw food intake and only eat takeaway food if it’s hot and be sure that is hasn’t been sitting at room temperature.


  • ready to eat seafood (smoked fish, sushi, sashimi, mussels)
  • premixed raw veggies (coleslaw and other prepackaged salads)
  • soft serve ice-cream
  • soft cheeses (brie, camembert, ricotta) unless cooked
  • deli meats
  • unpasteurized milk
  • pate

Yoghurt and cottage cheese are fine.

We also recommend following these guidelines immediately after an embryo transfer. Everyday I’m asked if during the 2 week wait you should treat yourself as you would during pregnancy. The answer is definitely yes! After all, that’s the main goal and to have the attitude that ‘the last transfer didn’t take so neither will this one’ can lead to distress when you do get a positive pregnancy test and haven’t taken care of yourself up until that point.

So, avoid Listeria foods, don’t over-exercise (especially if you were not doing it before pregnancy) and avoid alcohol and other toxins.

Don’t panic in regards to Listeria, just take precautions…

Dr Julie Rani Vecera is a Chinese Medical Practitioner, Nutritional Advisor and Acupuncturist. She is available for private consultations in various locations in Melbourne or via Skype. For more information please contact or

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