Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coliform Contamination Found in Bagged Salads

Pre-washed, packaged salads are certainly a convenience - especially if you like to pack a healthy lunch for yourself or your children. But are you getting more than you expected in your salad?

A Consumer Reports study recently found bacterial contamination in packages of pre-washed salad greens. The good news is that they didn't find the worst offenders, such as E. coli, listeria or salmonella. But they did find coliforms, a general indicator for bacterial infection.

The study involved 208 samples and 39 percent of those samples showed levels of contamination above that which is considered acceptable.

Specifically, samples tested positive for coliforms and enterococcus which are indicators of fecal contamination. Bags of spinach were the most common offenders. Now there's a thought that could put you off your lunch.

If you do buy bagged salads, follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting contamination in your salad:

* Buy packages as far from the "use-by" date as possible. More contamination was found in packages that were within 1-5 days of their expiration date.

* Wash the salad yourself in running water.

* Keep salad refrigerated from the day you buy it until used. Bacteria generally don't like cold temperatures.

* Prevent any possibility of cross-contamination by keeping greens aware from raw meat.

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