wash bagged produceWhile packaged spinach has been removed from store shelves nationwide following an E. coli outbreak that has been linked to at least one death and a number of illnesses, how safe is that prepackaged salad mix or fresh produce, such as lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, etc., you just purchased?

According to a Kansas State University food microbiologist, you may be getting more than you bargained for. Daniel Y.C. Fung, a K-State professor of animal sciences and industry and of food science, said although the recent spinach incident is an isolated case and should not be an indication of the safety of all fresh produce in the United States, consumers should take precautions before eating any produce — prepackaged or not.

"Once consumers buy these packages, often they just open them up and eat them," Fung said. "With hamburger, we can tell people to cook to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and it will be sure to kill salmonella or E. Coli, but with salads, we have no idea. You go to supermarket, buy the bagged produce, dump out and eat. You don’t know if it has E. coli."Continue Reading K-State food microbiologist recommends washing produce

With at least 23 people in Minnesota sickened with the deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacterium, 8 of them hospitalized, and 1 child developing acute kidney failure, all from apparently eating bagged, “pre-washed” lettuce, one needs to ask if the convenience is worth the risk? According to the FDA, more than 245,000 bags of lettuce might be affected nationwide. An alert and recall has been launched. Some of the recalled lettuce has been found to be contaminated with the same E. coli that has sickened the 23 Minnesotans. Is the convenience worth the risk? What more needs to be done?
Continue Reading Bagged “Pre-Washed” Lettuce: Is Convenience Worth the Risk?