Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause pregnant women to lose their fetuses and trigger fatal cases of meningitis in the elderly or people with compromised immune systems. The bacterium has been linked to outbreaks traced to food processing plants in the U.S. and Canada.
In 2002, a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis – the serious disease caused by Listeria — resulted in 46 confirmed cases, seven deaths and three stillbirths or miscarriages. Those cases in eight states were linked to people eating contaminated sliced turkey deli meat. From January to August 1985, there was another outbreak with 142 cases of listeriosis.