Bagged Salad Salmonella Risk

Bagged salad can boost the growth of bugs like Salmonella and make them virulent, studies say.

“Salad” by Stuart Spivack is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Who doesn’t like takeaway food? It tastes good, it’s convenient, and requires no washing because it’s all served in disposable containers! These days, we can get almost anything packed away to eat back at home – pizzas, noodles, soups, rice, and salads. Sometimes when there’s slow delivery, the food arrives soggy and a little disappointing, right? But, you still eat it, because it tastes good and it’s completely safe for consumption – or is it? You better be careful, because this isn’t the case for salads.  

Studies have shown that bagged salad can dramatically increase the risk of salmonella. According to scientists at the University of Leicester, the moist environment combined with nutrients seeping out of chopped leaves created the optimal breeding habitat for bacteria. Shockingly, the bacteria thrived even when placed in the refrigerator; thus, it is recommended that people eat bagged salad on the day they bought it.

The salad itself can carry bacteria; however, research showed that the bag only worsened conditions. Bags are often moist in order to keep the salad crunchy and fresh. Leaves are chopped into smaller pieces for convenience. Nutrients in the form of sugars, proteins and minerals escape from the cuts into the water in the bag. “That’s a reasonable amount of nutrients if you’re a bacterium,” said researcher Dr. Primrose Freestone.

Apparently, salmonella bloomed in bags containing Spinach, whilst E. Coli thrived on rocket leaves. According to Dr Freestone, “juices that naturally leach from the leaves have the potential to increase the growth of any pathogen that might be present and establish them so strongly that washing wouldn’t be enough to eradicate them.”

This doesn’t mean that you need to completely abstain from eating bagged salads; just be more alert and conscious. As Dr Kimon Karatzas, from the University of Reading, puts it: “Avoiding fresh produce is not a solution, but if possible, it would be preferable to buy uncut fresh produce over chopped, and to always wash it before you eat – even the ones that are already washed.”

Sometimes our lives can get busy, and we tend to neglect some aspects of our lives; but health cannot be one of them. Our diet is of paramount importance, so be more aware of what you eat and when you eat it!