Pros and Cons of Precut Bagged Salad
Oh precut bagged salad is convenient and satisfies our desire to eat fresh fruits and vegetables without the drudgery of preparing fresh fruits and vegetables. Precut salad is often distributed by a central salad preparation company and distributed to individual grocery stores. Since precut salad is usually not prepared at your local grocery store, it is not ideally fresh as we call it. Besides precut salad bags purchased from the grocery store often remain in the refrigerator for more than a week or two. Thus, bagged salad is never as fresh as desirable.
Recently there have been multistate recalls including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia of precut bagged garden salad from major brands. The salad showed presence of Listeria contamination which can cause severe infection. Listeria monocytogenes can grow at refrigerated temperature and increase in numbers but will not show any organoleptic spoilage.
The infection Listeriosis is most likely to sicken pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected. Listeria can cause fever and diarrhea similar to other foodborne germs, but this type of Listeria infection is rarely diagnosed. Symptoms in people with invasive listeriosis, meaning the bacteria has spread beyond the gut, depend on whether the person is pregnant.
- Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
- People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
Most often precut salad ingredients are treated with sanitizers after they are cut. Any surface contamination on whole fruits and vegetables gets introduced into the cut salad ingredients. It is difficult to eliminate bacteria once introduced into the cut salad ingredients. For safety it is best to cut the salad ingredients after treating with nonoxidizing sanitizers such as Microcide’s PRO-SAN brand. For food safety we might have to compromise on convenience factor. However, we can get fresh salad as well as safe to eat without infecting microorganisms.
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED)