Listeria is a bacterial genus containing six species. Named after the English pioneer of sterile surgery Joseph Lister, the genus was given its current name in 1940. Listeria species are Gram-positive bacilli and are typified by L. monocytogenes, the causative agent of listeriosis.
Listeria ivanovii is a pathogen of ruminants, and can infect mice in the laboratory, although it is only rarely the cause of human disease.
The prevention of Listeria as a food illness involves effective sanitation of food contact surfaces. Alcohol has proven to be an effective topical sanitizer against Listeria. Quaternary ammonium can be used in conjunction with alcohol as a food contact safe sanitizer with increased duration of the sanitizing action. Refrigerated foods in the home should be kept below 4 °C (39.2 °F) to discourage bacterial growth. Preventing listeriosis also can be done by carrying out an effective sanitation of food contact surfaces.
Antibiotics effective against Listeria species include ampicillin, vancomycin (unclear effectiveness), ciprofloxacin, linezolid, azithromycin.
Intralytix, a Baltimore, Maryland-based biotechnology firm has created a product that combines six different bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria exclusively) and is applied to food and areas associated with food production. It has been shown to be effective in the elimination of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
EBI Food Safety has created and put a similar product on the market, LISTEX P100. LISTEX P100 reduces Listeria monocytogenes in food by using bacteriophages to kill them.