Packaged Salad: Convenient Or Contaminated?

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  • Are packaged salads safe?

    With so many scary headlines about recalled lettuce greens and the bacterial company they keep — we’re talking stomach-sabotaging, potentially deadly strains like salmonella and listeria — can you really trust what your grocery store is selling?

    The experts say…yes. In most cases, don’t stress. But, do understand what you can do to keep your salads a little safer. Billions and billions of bags of packaged greens are sold a year, and in most cases, people don’t get sick. But, the reality is, there aren’t always enough safeguards in place, so there’s always a slight chance.

    Any produce growing outside is going to be exposed to wildlife, irrigation water, soil — a whole host of potential contaminants that are beyond a farmer’s control. (This is why we wash our fruits and veggies, after all.) Bagged leafy greens are no different. They get triple-washed at the processing plant, swished around in chlorine water before they’re stuffed into plastic containers or bags, then shipped off to your supermarket.

    But, there’s a catch with these little bagged salads: The greens are often cut first, which could transfer whatever bacteria are lurking on those leaves inside the vegetable. Once they’re in there, they can’t really be washed away. The good news is, it doesn’t happen that often. The bad news is, when it does, you might get sick.

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