Food Safety Issues/Listeria and High Temp


Hello, I've been researching a lot about listeria since I've been pregnant. It has become a concern of mine and I was hoping you can clarify a concern about a recent experience. Yesterday, while in line at an omelette station, I watched the chef prepare an omelette next to mine that consisted of diced ham and spinach. She had sautéed the ham and spinach in the pan for a couple of minutes at a high temp. But when she flipped the items over in the pan before getting ready to add the eggs, she touched the ham with a spautla. Then she quickly went to my cooked omelette, flipped one last time and served to me within seconds. At that moment, it didn't register about any pathogens transferring from the unwashed spautla. From my understanding, ham must be recooked at an internal temp of 165. Since the diced ham was not flipped around prior to her flipping it that one time, there was no way to cook through? Also, listeria is attracted to proteins, so there is no guarantee my cooked eggs would resist bacteria?

I wouldn't worry at all about this. The first thing I consider when a food poisoning scenario is presented is outbreak or incident history. Although logical scenarios may be presented, if there is no documented food poisoning attributed to the scenario, food safety experts, including regulatory officials would consider the risk for a food poisoning event very low. My next thought would be that if Listeria did somehow contaminate the spatula, the amount transferred would be so low there wouldn't be enough of the bacteria to cause symptoms. Again, the lack of outbreak history supports this. Also, the spatula you should assume was washed and sanitized prior to use. Another consideration is that Listeria, like all pathogens, does not compete well with other non-pathogenic microorganisms which occur naturally in the environment. Listeria contaminates ready to eat cooked meats such as ham after it is cooked and before it is packaged. Processors go to great lengths to insure Listeria free processing and especially packaging environments through constant sanitation and testing. I'd hang my hat on the lack of outbreak history. Great question. Sorry about my delay in answering. I've had a bout of pathogenic viral contamination myself to deal with. I'm suffering from a bout with the flu. It really did a number on me since last thursday.  

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Carl LaFrate


I can answer food safety questions relative to food processing, retail food and food salvage after a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, ammonia leak or fire. Questions related to HACCP, Regulatory, GFSI, SQF, BRC, liability issues, contamination events, pest infestation, pest control methodology,food safety defense, pathogen prevention such as L. Monocytogenes control in food processing and retail, any subject related to food safety including at home issues.


30 years experience as a food safety consultant working for the top food processors, food retailers and insurance companies that write liability policies related to food processing, storage and distribution. My firm employees 6 full time food safety auditors. I work for top law firms throughout the USA and am a staff consultant for Douglas Peterson and Associates, one of the top forensic engineering firms in the world. I also work with Risk Solutions International, a global leader in risk management.

New York State Association for Food Protection, past president, executive board Central Atlantic States Association of Food and Drug Officials

Progressive Grocer Magazine Smart Money Magazine Private Label Buyer Magazine Supermarket News Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine Food Service Director Magazine NYS Association for Food Protection Annual Report NYS Association for Food Protection Newsletter

Syracuse University, Microbiology/Biology NYS College of Environmental Sciences, Plant and Environmental Biology Cornell University, Food and Dairy Processing

Awards and Honors
Wm. Hickey Award (2006), NYS Association for Food Protection, for contributions in the field of food safety and sanitation New York State Integrated Pest Management Award (2007), NYS Assoc. for Food Protection, for contributions in the filed of integrated pest management.

Past/Present Clients
Pillsbury, Agri-Mark, Associated Grocers, Beatrice Foods, Cargill, Southern Cold Storage, Quaker, Ben & Jerry’s, Delverde Pasta (Italy), New York Bakery, Cabot Cheese, Hazelwood Farms, General Mills, Price Chopper Supermarkets, P&C Supermarkets, Great American Supermarkets, Tops Markets, Big M Supermarkets, Big Bear Supermarkets, Frito-Lay Distribution Centers, IBP, Excell, Eckerd Drugs, Rite Aid Drug Stores, Fay’s Drugs, Carl’s Drugs, AWI Wholesale Food Distribution, McLane Food Distributors, Golub Food Distribution, many supermarket chains (many include large scale specialty food service operations), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Darden Foods (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), LSG Skychefs (Germany, US), Glen Mills Schools, Cornell University, Crider Poultry, Caesar’s Palace, The Oneida Indian Nation, Taylor Meat Packing, UCB Packaging Films

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