You Might Want To Throw Out That Bagged Salad

Bagged salads are highly convenient for when you need a quick lunch thrown together, but did you know that there are health risks associated with them?

According to Delish, bagged salads are susceptible to listeria and other pathogens, and for the fourth time this year Fresh Express salads are being recalled for undeclared allergens. I guess the great convenience is too good to be true.

Food Safety News reports that Chiquita International has recalled 480 cases of American Salad mix from six states because Caesar salad dressing packets were added to the bags. In case you didn’t know, Caesar salad dressing includes egg, milk, wheat and anchovy, all of which can be considered allergens. Whoops. States that were included in the six were: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. If you’re worried you might have a bag in your fridge, check that the use-by date is Oct. 5 to be sure.

Aside from the aforementioned health risks, Food Safety News has also found that the green juices released from the damaged leaves of bagged salads can “significantly encourage the growth of Salmonella enterica.”

 “We found that juices released from the cut-ends of the salad leaves enabled the Salmonella to grow in water, even when it was refrigerated -- this was a surprise as Salmonella has a temperature preference of 37 C,” the study states. It was also found that when left in the bag, even refrigerated, the pathogens attached so strongly to the leaves that they couldn’t even be rinsed off in water.

Basically, the study lets us know that there’s no increase of risk in eating our leafy greens (so don’t consider that as an excuse to cut them out!), but that keeping them in a bag of salad mix in the refrigerator can increase the risk of sickness.

The take-away here is to make sure your salads are “stored, prepared and used according to the guidance on the pack -- including refrigeration and use-by instructions. Avoid bags of salad with mushed-up leaves, any bags or salad containers that look swollen, store in the fridge and use the salad as quickly as possible after purchase to minimize the growth of any pathogens that might be present.”